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Natural Awakenings Lehigh Valley

Oil Pulling for Healthy Teeth

Oil pulling has recently become a popular homeopathic method for treating a variety of ailments, many of which affect the oral cavity. The practice began in India 3,000 to 5,000 years ago when the world’s oldest health care system known as Ayurveda evolved. Ayurveda is derived from a Sanskrit word that means arising from two roots: “Ayur” meaning life and “Veda” meaning knowledge.

Ayurveda’s life knowledge uses herbs, plants and spices to connect the body, mind and spirit with nature. Oil pulling is a powerful detoxifying technique mentioned in the Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita, where it is claimed to cure 30 systemic diseases in the body.

Ayurveda recommends oil pulling and oil gargling to purify the entire system, as it holds that each section of the tongue is connected to different organs such as the kidneys, lungs, liver, heart, small intestines, stomach, colon and spine.

For this reason, holistic practitioners typically include a tongue diagnosis in their initial patient evaluation because changes in the tongue reflect stressed and diseased organs in the body. But, how do the organs get stressed initially? Diet, lifestyle and environment play a big role, as do mineral deficiencies, heavy metal excesses and the health of the teeth. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) tells us that our teeth are part of acupuncture meridians that provide a flow of life-giving energy to different organs.

So, for example, the upper lateral incisors sit on the meridian that supplies life-giving energy to the ovaries. If the maxillary lateral incisors become infected or has root canal therapy, the life giving flow of energy to the ovaries stops and diseases like cancer can be the result.

Another example is the upper first molars. They sit on the stomach meridian, which includes organs like the stomach, liver, kidneys, pancreas and breast. Therefore, an upper first molar that’s infected or had root canal therapy would be like a circuit breaker that’s off. The energy would stop flowing in the stomach meridian and the stomach, liver, kidneys, pancreas and breast would be more susceptible to disease.

Keeping the teeth healthy is key in creating health in the rest of the body. Oil pulling detoxifies and keeps the teeth healthy so the meridians can remain open and supply their life-giving flow of energy to the body’s organs.

What exactly is oil pulling? It involves holding a tablespoon of oil in your mouth and “pulling” it between the teeth for up to 15 minutes to get both oral and systemic health benefits. Typically coconut oil, sesame oil or sunflower oil is used to swish around the mouth because they’re antibacterial and suppress disease-causing bacteria in the mouth.

The daily practice of oil pulling has been shown to lead to significant decreases in oral bacteria, microorganisms in the plaque, gum disease, bad breath and can naturally whiten teeth. A gentle swishing, pushing and sucking the oil through the teeth is all that’s required.

The growing popularity of oil pulling can be attributed to the fact that it’s cost-effective, easily accessible and uses organic ingredients. It’s a great adjunct to brushing and flossing that helps detoxify the system and keeps the teeth and gums healthy.

Oil pulling can be especially helpful to those who have braces. The braces prevent the toothbrush and floss from reaching most areas of the teeth, so after a couple of years, patients can sometimes find they have a mouthful of cavities. Oil pulling can reach those areas that the toothbrush and floss can’t.

Also, people with a strong gag reflex often find that brushing their back teeth can cause an uncontrollable gagging response. As a result, their molars in the back of the mouth don’t get cleaned, plaque accumulates, bacteria flourish and cavities and infected teeth are the result. Oil pulling can be a great solution because it prevents plaque and bacteria from accumulating, prevents cavities and reduces gingivitis.

Gingivitis is inflammation in the gums and impacts 75 percent of Americans. It is characterized by bleeding in the gums when brushing or flossing and can lead to tooth loss. Numerous researchers have found that oil pulling works just as well—if not better—than chemical synthetic mouth washes and significantly reduces gingivitis, making it a much safer alternative.

Coconut oil has an advantage when used in oil pulling because it predominantly contains medium chain fatty acids of which 45 to 50 percent is lauric acid. Since lauric acid has proven anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects, its use in oil pulling could be very beneficial in eliminating both gingivitis and tooth decay.

A 2014 report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that treating gum disease leads to better overall general health in the body. Researchers have consistently shown that oral bacteria and inflammation in the mouth are linked to heart attacks and dementia. Being that oil pulling significantly reduces the amount of bad bacteria and inflammation, it can provide a simple solution to health problems that plague many Americans.

While oil pulling can create an ideal oral environment for the teeth, it’s of utmost importance to have enough of the right minerals inside you to create and maintain strong teeth, gums and supporting bone structures.

For example, silicon is a mineral that the body needs to strengthen the gums and supporting bone, but the vast majority of people are deficient in this vital mineral. Another mineral that most people are deficient in is magnesium, which helps the teeth and bone absorb calcium. So by combining today’s modern technology that measures the mineral content in the cells with oil pulling from the world’s oldest health care system, a holistic dentist can provide the most effective and natural solutions for preventing cavities and gingivitis, as well as maintaining overall health.

Dr. Michael Taras is a holistic dentist and naturopathic physician with an office at 2900 Hamilton Blvd., in Allentown. Call 610-432-1320 for an appointment.

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