Before the advent of the toothbrush, some populations rinsed or brush their teeth and gums using oils, specifically olive oil, peppermint oil, and almond oil.
Prior to the 15th century in China, oil was used to rinse the mouth, clean the teeth, and freshen the breath. In ancient Mediterranean areas, a gaze cloth dipped in extra virgin olive oil was used daily to brighten the teeth, clean the gums, and brush the teeth. In India, sesame seed oil was swished in the mouth for a few minutes daily to clean gums and teeth.
Now this very ancient practice, also known as oil pulling, is making a comeback. More and more people are using oil as a holistic alternative for tooth care, but is there any truth to the practice?
In fact, oil it does help with many problems, particularly those associated with bacteria around the gum line. Many oils have various anti-microbial properties (if not heated and refined), so oil pulling can be very beneficial for oral health.
Olive oil may be useful for getting rid of plaque and reducing bacteria—some even claim it has moderate whitening properties.
If you have your teeth whitened, oil pulling may help prolong the results. If you’re not sure what works best, try consulting a holistic care practitioner.
For optimal results, swish with one tablespoon of oil 15–20 minutes. Remember, that putting oil in your sink can result in clogs, so dispose of oil in separate receptacles.
Remember to brush after swishing, and get ready to enjoy better oral health.
Emma Johnson is the owner of Pearl Boutique, a clinic that specializes in teeth whitening. She is a registered dental hygienist and completed her diploma at Camosun College, which offers one of the best recognized dental hygiene programs in Canada. Emma also holds a health science degree in kinesiology from the University of the Fraser Valley.