Conventional toothpaste contains triclosan, SLS, and other additives. Alternatives include oil pulling, charcoal toothpaste, and charcoal powder for cleaning teeth. Here I cover the benefits of oil pulling with sesame oil that I personally found as well as my experience of brushing with charcoal.
I don’t use conventional toothpaste that contains triclosan, SLS, and possibly other nasties. I use alternatives and practice oil pulling.
I find doing this is far cheaper than a trip to the dentist.
Having healthy teeth and gums is vital for our overall health.
Who is this for?
This is for anyone who wants to maintain healthy teeth and gums, fresh breath and practices of holistic self-care that cares for nature as well.
It suits someone wanting personal-care products free of undesirable chemical additives, such as triclosan, an antimicrobial used in toothpaste, deodorants and similar care products. It has been banned in soap because of evidence that suggests it is harmful.
What is oil pulling?
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice. Known also as Kavala Graha or Gandusha, it originates from India, from about 3,000 to 5,000 years ago.
Today, it’s recommended as a daily routine to benefit teeth and gums and as a potential holistic remedy for gingivitis, halitosis, and consequently, receding gums.
Oil pulling benefits
There is much written about oil pulling that goes beyond dental care in regards to overall health, but here I’m keeping to the oral side of things…
- Healthy teeth and gums
- Ease inflamed and tender gums
- No more bleeding gums
- Ease receding gums
- Help reduce the severity of dental caries
- Help eradicate bad breath (halitosis)
How is this different to commercial mouth rinses?
One thing is that most mouthwashes kill both good and bad bacteria together, they don’t discriminate…whereas oil-pulling kills the nasty bacteria while promoting a healthy and balanced oral microbiome.
Does oil pulling work?
Here’s what I found. Threatened with the expense of spending 1000s of dollars with a periodontist, I took up daily oil pulling religiously for six weeks. The next oral hygienist visit rated me clear of any periodontal issues. So I can’t recommend it enough.
I have to say, that before this, the idea of oil pulling seemed odd. I was used to the conventional practice of brushing my teeth with commercially available toothpaste and could not imagine how swishing oil around one’s mouth was beneficial for dental care let alone overall health.
Best oil for oil pulling
You can use coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower or other edible oils. Virgin cold-pressed oil is one of the best choices as it hasn’t been heated or chemically treated. Organic oil is another good choice as this indicates the source was grown without pesticides.
Organic oils such as sunflower oil, sesame oil, and coconut oil are of benefit especially if it is cold pressed, though refined oil also works in “pulling” the bacteria, viruses and protozoa from the oral cavity.NCBI article: Oil pulling for maintaining oral hygiene – A review (2017)
My personal preference is pure sesame oil.
Benefits of oil pulling with sesame oil
I find sesame oil is light with a subtle taste. I find it palatable compared to other oils.
Virgin pressed sesame oil does not have that strong odour of the sesame oil used in cooking. The cold-pressed virgin type has not been toasted and therefore, is subtle with little to no taste or odour.
I find it easy to swish and penetrate around and between the small dental spaces in my mouth for the preventive and balancing effects oil pulling offers.
The benefits of oil pulling with sesame oil include guarding against gingivitis, and thus, receding gums and halitosis.
What is gingivitis? It is gum inflammation often caused by bacteria that accumulate on the teeth and around the gum-line where normal brushing of teeth can miss.
Sesame oil for halitosis
Sesame oil pulling for receding gums
I started oil pulling with sesame oil every day when I discovered I had gingivitis. Basically I was using sesame oil pulling for receding gums. It helped me regain healthy gums. I continue to practice oil pulling infrequently for maintenance of dental health.
By oil pulling with sesame oil daily, I saved a dental bill of many thousands of dollars, as I was quoted to deal with receding gums via dentistry. After oil pulling every day for several weeks, my next dentist visit found no concern for gingivitis. How happy was I? The effort was worth every minute.
How does sesame oil work?
According to an Indian dental research centre review into oil pulling for maintaining oral hygiene, sesame oil possibly works to improve oral hygiene for these reasons…
- Sesame (Sesamum sp.) oil contains lignans known for detoxification, antioxidant and antibiotic properties, namely, sesamin, sesamolin and sesaminol. The root of this plant also contains chlorosesamone, shown to have antifungal properties.
- A study by Anand et al. (2008) found an obvious reduction of bacteria and of the severity of dental caries in a case study of persons practising oil pulling with sesame oil for 40 days.
- A finding by Asokan et al. from their in vitro study that sesame oil benefited oral health through “saponification, emulsification and mechanical cleansing action”.
How to do oil pulling for healthy teeth and gums
Here’s what I do.
It’s best to do this first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. Take about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of oil in your mouth, and then close your mouth to swish the oil about, over teeth and up and down and across your mouth. Continue this for several minutes. You can start with just a couple of minutes and work up to 15-20 min as you get used to the experience.
It helps pass this time if you occupy yourself with an activity or use the time to sit in contemplation.
Do not swallow the oil after you have been swishing it. After you’re done swishing, spit the oil into either a facial tissue or into the garden.
Avoid spitting into the bathroom basin (especially if coconut oil) or anywhere it could possible solidify and cause issues with the home’s plumbing. After this, either clean your teeth as normal with a toothbrush or rinse your mouth out with salty water.
To increase the healing process, do this up to 3 times a day, each time being before meals.
You’ll find more information in this dental research centre’s review of Oil Pulling for Oral Hygiene, which does advise not to use this “for children below 5 years due to the risk of aspiration.”
Alternatives. Best coconut oil for oil pulling
What kind of coconut oil for oil pulling? The best coconut
There are also Ayurvedic blends, such as coconut, sesame, sunflower, and peppermint oils, that provide a refreshing taste that you may prefer when starting out.
You could practice oil pulling with olive oil. But once again, cold-pressed virgin olive oil is best. Because virgin olive oil is a heavy type of oil this is not my preferred option. But if it is all you have available, give it a go.
Charcoal toothpaste and powder
I’ve used both the charcoal toothpaste and the charcoal powder. Both work well. The powder especially leaves your mouth feeling fresh and teeth super clean, like the clean you get after a dentist clean (but without the pain). You can run your tongue over your teeth and they feel glassy smooth after using the charcoal powder.
I’ve used the My Magic Mud and it comes with a small scoop that you use to add the powder to your mouth, under your tongue. Then you get your toothbrush and start brushing. It’s best to lean over the basin when doing this, to lessen the mess.
An electric toothbrush is best, especially one that has beeps as time prompts.
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Similar to oil pulling this method is known to be effective for oral hygiene with benefits of ridding halitosis, and easing gingivitis and receding gums.
I found brushing with charcoal powder is messy, however. No matter what I do, the black powder tends to go everywhere. Leaning over the basin avoids more mess but be prepared to have to clean the basin afterwards. The other thing is to check in the mirror as you are likely to have black residue circling your lips.
Having said all that, it is a fabulous product and I thoroughly recommend it. And, from accounts of others, charcoal powder is excellent for overcoming gingivitis. It also is a good option for oral care without the triclosan, SLS, and other additives of conventional toothpaste.
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