Trips to the dentist – I like to postpone that kind of thing. (Johnny Depp)
This is a good news post!
So, it’s pretty common knowledge that I’ve been on this roller coaster ride to heal my gut (and autoimmune issues) over the past few months year or so. I talked about it in more detail in my post on the autoimmune protocol introduction and then again in the one about all disease beginning in the gut. I think I may have mentioned the problems I have with my teeth and gums, too (in passing – not the sexiest topic!). All this teeth-stuff included some periodontal surgery earlier in the year following a particularly nasty gum infection.
Just as an aside – I don’t recommend periodontal surgery if you can possibly avoid it. Not much fun. Instead – look after your mouth!
As I continue to learn more and more about the importance of gut-health, I am not really that surprised to discover periodontal health goes hand in hand with general health and well-being. At its most simple, it all comes down to an imbalance of bacteria – too many of the bad germy-Jims, and not nearly enough of the good ones. And, when your immune system is compromised, it’s almost impossible for your body to heal itself.
Well, on Tuesday of this week, I had the trifecta of dental appointments. It started early with the dentist, moved onto the hygienist and was rounded out with a meet up with my periodontist. As you might imagine, I wasn’t looking forward to it all.
I have been seeing my dentist a lot this year. Mainly because I had a crown fitted earlier in the year after cracking a back molar. It hasn’t been a smooth process. It seems nothing to do with my teeth and gums ever is!
The last time I visited my dentist was about the same time I started the gut healing protocol. I was going to have at least a month of being almost totally focused on healing myself. So, I thought it might just be time to give this oil pulling thing that I had been reading about a red-hot go. At the very least, I could commit to a daily regimen of oil pulling religiously for a month. Just one wee month. Just to see if he noticed a difference on my next visit. Sort of a ‘self-experiment’, if you will.
Don’t know what oil pulling is?
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy that uses natural oils to clean and detoxify teeth and gums. It is reputed to have the added effect of whitening teeth naturally and there is some evidence that it is beneficial in improving gums and removing harmful bacteria – bonus!
The concept is really simple. You swish a couple teaspoons of a vegetable based oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes. You then spit it out and rinse thoroughly. Traditionally, back in India, oil pullers used virgin sesame oil. I use raw coconut oil because it has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and enzymatic properties. Plus, the smell of sesame oil first thing in the morning just doesn’t do it for me.
Oil pulling is best done in the morning, before eating or drinking anything. I do it while I’m in the shower.
Dentist, n.: A Prestidigitator who, putting metal in one’s mouth, pulls coins out of one’s pockets. (Ambrose Bierce)
But, exactly HOW do you oil pull?
1. Put 1-2 teaspoons of oil into your mouth. I use a couple of teaspoons of organic coconut oil. I scoop it out as a solid, chew on it a few times and let it melt in my mouth before starting to swish. If you prefer the taste, you could add a drop or two of peppermint oil.
2. Swish around your mouth for 20 minutes. Suck and pull the liquid oil through your teeth and around your gums. Be careful not to swallow! Apparently the timing is key. You want to do it long enough to break through plaque and bacteria but not long enough that the body starts re-absorbing the toxins and bacteria. You will find that the oil gets thicker and milky as it mixes with your saliva. It will increase in volume.
3. Spit out the oil into the rubbish bin. Don’t spit into the sink! It will block your sink as it hardens. And, definitely don’t swallow the oil because it will be full of all the bacteria and toxins you’re working so hard to get rid of in your mouth.
4. Rinse well with warm water.
To be honest, it does take a little getting used to. It’s winter here, so the coconut oil takes some time to melt in my mouth before I start swishing. But, after the first 2 or 3 days, I found I got into a bit of a routine. It’s not difficult. And, I find swishing in the shower almost meditative. And, you do have to focus on the swishing – so, it keeps your mind other things (which – in my case – is a good thing!).
And now or the good news!
My dentist estimated between a 20 – 40% reduction in plaque build up since my last visit a month ago. That’s just from oil pulling. My hygienist even danced a wee jig at the improved state of my gum health since she last saw me 6 months ago. And, while that is certainly not all due to the oil pulling – pretty sure my gut healing is having some effect – the reduction in plaque build up is.
I think I’m going to keep on oil pulling. It’s now part of my daily routine.