Some of Sacramento’s Asian populations rinse their mouth with various cooking or salad oils, and some even brush their teeth with tooth oil, that is some of the extra virgin, unheated cooking oils known for anti-microbial effects. There’s possibly a growing fad starting based on a very ancient practice–cleaning your teeth, gums, and mouth with olive oil, coconut oil, and sesame seed oil. Of course, the oil has to be organic, expeller pressed, cold pressed, no heat, no hexanes, extra virgin oil, kept in a cool, dark place (or dark bottle, if available). Where did this practice start? See, Oil Pulling Cures.
Should your child brush teeth or rinse mouth with olive, coconut, or sesame seed oils? These extra-virgin, unheated, unprocessed oils do have anti-bacterial effects in the mouth as does peppermint oil on gums and teeth. Is it safer to use oil to clean teeth, and will these oils really help prevent cavities that may be caused by diet and start from the inside out instead of from the outside in?
Check out oil pulling in Sacramento’s Indian population and in other South Asian populations in other towns. See, Oil Pulling Research. Actually, it’s an ancient way of cleaning your mouth. In the days before people had toothbrushes, prior to the 15th century in China, oil was used to rinse the mouth, clean the teeth, and freshen the breath. In the ancient Mediterranean areas, extra virgin olive oil was used daily to brighten the teeth, clean the gums, and when dipped in a gauze-type cloth, ‘brush’ the teeth. Sacramento has a diverse population. People from South Asia know a lot about oil pulling using sesame seed or coconut oil.
You can find that ‘fashion’ or ‘fad’ returning. And it does help with some problems people might have with bacteria around the gumline. Swishing the oil in your mouth also is known in Ayurvedic (Indian culture) medicine. In India, it’s sesame seed oil that is swished in the mouth for a few minutes daily to clean gums and teeth. In modern times, the oil swishing is done after flossing and brushing.
The regimen is known as “oil pulling” in various naturopathic circles. In fact, extra virgin olive oil with its anti-microbial properties (if not heated and refined) does get rid of a lot of bacteria on the teeth and gums. Check out the website where someone has applied for a patent for olive oil toothpaste, “Use of olive oil in the preparation of a product for oral hygiene for eliminating or reducing bacterial plaque and/or bacteria in the mouth.” It’s described on the website, “free patents online.”
Basically, olive oil is used to get rid of plaque, brighten teeth, maybe whiten teeth a little for some people, and do away with bacteria on teeth and gums. What also works well is coconut oil and sesame seed oil. But some people have allergic reactions to coconut oil. So olive oil maybe works for those who aren’t getting the results they want with coconut oil.
In Sacramento, the practice is called “oil pullling.” It refers to the practice of swishing oil in your mouth as a mouthwash. And the technique is ancient. You put a teaspoon of organic cooking oil–olive, sesame, or coconut in your mouth and swish it around. The ideal time is to do this for 10 minutes a few times a day. Then you spit out the oil in a container or your yard, but not in the sink or toilet where it stuffs up the drains by accumulating soap stuck to the oily residue.
Then you rinse out your mouth. Supposedly, the oil pulls out toxins or bacteria from your gums and helps to remove particles embedded in your gums that you can’t see, such as plaque. It also is supposed to do away with bad breath. To heal gums, another practice is to take a little fish oil, such as fermented cod liver oil, available at cod liver oil shop.com.
Sacramento holistic-minded people also recommend not using anti-bacterial mouthwashes containing alcohol or other chemicals that kill off the good bacteria in your mouth. That’s why the oil is supposed to get the bad bacteria. But it’s going to take an actual test under a microscope to see whether olive oil gets rid of the good bacteria as well or leaves them be.
Basically, after you do the oil swishing, you’re supposed to brush your teeth or at least rinse out your mouth. Some types of coconut oil have sugar. So if this interests you, you might use plain organic extra virgin olive oil or sesame seed oil to start. The fad in Sacramento seems to be growing, but only as people realize olive, sesame, or coconut oil can be used to clean the teeth and gums. To be sure, talk to your dentist, preferably one of the holistic dentists to make sure the oil really does treat your teeth and gums the way you want–removing plaque before it has a chance to harden in any given 24-hour period.
Some Sacramentans also brushed their dog’s teeth with a tiny bit of olive oil on a cloth, doggie brush, or gauze pad. But ask your veterinarian first, if it’s healthy for dogs to lick at a tiny bit of olive oil. As for people, we tried it here, and it did soothe a healing gum that had started to become inflamed three weeks after a tooth extraction. The olive, sesame, and coconut oils did take away the pain of that ‘raw’ gum as it healed.
So maybe it works. In any case, check out dental uses of olive oil as a mouthwash with your dentist, holistic practitioner, or health care team. But again, olive oil worked here at our house for soothing the gums. Will a tiny bit of olive oil also dissolve the daily-forming plaque on your dog’s teeth if it works that way on your teeth–maybe? Some people say it works. But always check with an expert on what dogs (and people) can use on their teeth.
Check out my other knotmove.com columns
National Children’s Nutrition Examiner
National One-Pot-Meals Examiner
Sacramento Nutrition Examiner
Sacramento Healthy Trends Examiner
Sacramento Women’s Issues Examiner
Sacramento Media & Culture Examiner
Sacramento Green Health Examiner
Sacramento Holistic Family Health Examiner
Sacramento Back to School Examiner
Follow Anne Hart’s various Examiner articles on nutrition, health, and culture on this Facebook site and/or this Twitter site. Also see some of Anne Hart’s 91 paperback books at: iUniverse, and Career Press. Or see author’s website.