Oil Pulling: Does it stand up to the hype?

Oil pulling has been at the forefront of health and wellness news lately, it seems like everyone is talking about it, everyone is doing it, and everyone is claiming all sorts of health benefits from preventing heart disease, to correcting hormone imbalances, to preventing migraines, to curing a hangover. If that’s all true, great, sign me up! But are these claims all true and it is healthy for everyone?

What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is a practice that is around 3,000-5,000 years old, started in India (an Ayurveda traditional medicine practice), that has most recently gained the attention of some celebrities, so to some it seems like a rather new phenomenon. It is based on the idea of a daily health routine that aids in cleansing the body. Oil pulling should be performed after brushing and flossing your teeth, to remove the larger debris and loose plaques, so the oil can be used in a clean oral environment. Most often using sesame oil, as it has antimicrobial properties (meaning: it can kill off some harmful bacteria), you can use one of two two techniques to oil pull:

1. Fill your mouth with oil and just keep it in your mouth for up to 5 minutes then spit it out.

2. Put roughly 30ml of oil in your mouth and swish and gargle (as you would a mouth wash) and spit out.Oil Pulling

What does it do?

Since the oil has an antimicrobial properties, by letting it (either actively- swishing- or passively) get between your teeth and into your gums, it helps to decrease the bacteria content in your mouth and saliva (which has been shown in a couple of very small studies), which would lead to less plaque formation and your teeth and gums and prevent bad breath (bacteria is most often the culprit for bad breath). Decreasing bacteria leads to less inflammation in your mouth, and theoretically, this would lead to less cavities, and improve gum health (think less bleeding gums and possibly decrease risk of gingivitis). It can also help with prevention of canker sores, or any other small oral ulceration due to bacteria. Mostly, this occurs because oil is lipid (fat) based, and will leave a slight coating on your teeth and gums which helps prevent bacteria from sticking there, along with the antimicrobial properties.

Does it work?

This obviously has been a part of Eastern Medicine for a long time, and there are some benefits of decreasing bacteria in your mouth such as decreased inflammation and bacteria counts, along with improved breath,which has been shown in small studies of oil pulling. That being said, using a chlorhexidine based mouthwash can also give the same benefits (think GlyOxide).

There have been numerous other claims that it is a full body cleanse and draws all toxins out of your entire body, which various people have claim leads to migraine prevention, hormone imbalance correction, improve kidney function and vision, prevent insomnia…and the list goes on.  These things, have not been shown to be due to oil pulling, and the claims are pretty far fetched.  However, I am sure that some people really believe this, and the mind is a very powerful thing, so if you oil pull and feel better from whatever ailments you have, great.

There are no negative side effects from oil pulling, besides having to swish with oil (which doesn’t taste great) daily, so if you are interested in giving it a try, go for it! You will most likely improve your oral health, but as for everything else…there is nothing to prove those benefits will occur, so don’t be disappointed if your life doesn’t change completely!

Yours in Good Health


Have an annoying bump in your mouth? It may be a mucocele!

I bet many of you have had a mucocele and maybe didn’t know what it was, and by the time you think to figure out what it is, it’s gone! I tend to be a teeth grinder when I am stressed, much to the chagrin of my dentist, but every now and again, I will bite my inner lip, so I tend to be really sensitive to any sorts of bumps and lumps in my mouth because I usually just assumed I have done some damage during my midnight teeth mashing! Instead of the trauma caused by teeth grinding, you can get some small bumps on the tissues in your mouth that are little fluid filled bumps that may be a little painful, but more annoying than anything else, and that, my friend, is a mucocele!

What exactly is a mucocele?

Mucoceles are painless thin little cysts (fluid filled sacs which has clear fluid once popped but can look almost bluish inside your mouth) usually on the inside of the lips and/or cheeks, and are quite common. The can also occur on the roof of the mouth, the tongue, or on your gums. They can vary in size, and the larger they are, the more annoying they can be, but they usually do not cause any pain, but they can just be irritating depending where they are (especially if on the tongue).  They are thought to occur due to sucking the tissue from your lips/cheeks between the spaces of your teeth (it’s a working theory), so the size of the mucocele would depend on the size of the space between your teeth. Although, they are especially common around an sort of oral piercing sites, so I am not sure how that works with the teeth sucking theory!

credit: oralmaxillo-facialsurgery.blogspot.com

credit: oralmaxillo-facialsurgery.blogspot.com

How are they diagnosed and treated?

The good news is that Healthcare Practitioners (HCPs) can just visualize it to diagnose it, and once we diagnose it, I am sure you will recognize it in the future (to save yourself a co-pay and trip to the HCPs office!) That being said, sometimes they become large and will keep coming back, which would require them to be removed by an oral surgeon or a dentist (depending on size, placement, and their level of comfort). Often, smaller mucoceles will just rupture on their own, spontaneously, and then not come back. If they are big and causing a lot of irritation, an HCP may have to rupture it for you using a sterile needle (which sounds painful, but it’s not.) I do not suggest rupturing them with any sort of sharp object on your own, as you risk an infection….and oral infections are neither fun, nor easy to treat!

How can I prevent them?

There’s nothing you can do other than remove oral piercings that you may have that there are commonly mucoceles around, and trying not to suck on your teeth.  I am not sure if people really intend to suck on their teeth, I don’t think it’s a conscious thing….but if you do, try to stop!

The important things to know is that they are common, and if they become uncomfortable go to see your HCP to get them removed.  They are in no way detrimental to your health, but to make sure that if they do need to be ruptured or removed it is done under the care of an HCP to make sure it is as clean as possible and prevent the risk of infection. So, next time you might feel a little annoying bump in your mouth, you have a little more insight as to what it is!!

Yours in Good Health



A Teeth Whitening Diet??

We all know that there are foods we eat than can stain our teeth, like drinking coffee, red wine, tea,  and eating blackberries, beets, or blueberries.  But there are some foods that stain your teeth that may shock you AND some that you can eat that will help to promote teeth whitening.  So, no need to go to the dentist every couple of years and pay $500 for teeth whitening.  Eat your way to white teeth!

What foods can cause staining?

Other than the ones I just referred to above, there are some real shockers.  You think that you are safe from staining your teeth by drinking white wine?  Apparently the tannins and acids that are present in white wine, actually scratch your teeth and promote staining by other foods. Sodas (dark) tend to stain teeth due to the color of the beverage, but also light sodas can stain the teeth due to the acidity of the beverage, as well as sports drinks (think: Gatorade).  Isn’t that a total bummer?  You think that drinking light-colored things wouldn’t necessarily be awesome for your teeth (most of those items do have high sugar content) but you wouldn’t think that they would either stain your teeth or pave the way for staining! Apparently whatever would stain a white cotton T-shirt, would also stain your teeth.

bunny food or happy teeth food?

bunny food or happy teeth food?

What foods can I eat to make my teeth pearly white?

Apples! Apples, while yes they do have some acidity to them, are also really crunchy and full of fiber which can help scrub the teeth.  Actually most hard and crunchy fruits and vegetables will also help to scrub teeth clean and make them glisten: raw cauliflower, celery, green beans, carrots, pears, and jicama (to name a few) are not only low in calories, and high in fiber and yumminess, they also clean your teeth!  So next time you see  veggies out as finger food, grab them and start chomping for some last-minute whitening!

Some cheeses and other dairy products (think milk and yogurt) contain enzymes that help to strengthen teeth and prevent decay, so it helps to keep your enamel looking nice and white!

Strawberries can help to polish teeth and make them appear whiter and shinier, due to an enzyme called malic acid that is present in them.

Water helps to wash away anything that may be caught on your teeth that could cause staining if left there. And if you have no water and no toothbrush, what are you to do?  Chew on sugar-free gum! While dentists don’t normally love it, it also helps to clan your teeth by grabbing some of the stain causing items off of your teeth, plus it helps to promote  more saliva in your mouth.  Saliva can help to neutralize acids, thus prevent tooth decay and staining.

Is there anything else I can do?

Brush your teeth three times a day!  I am totally the nerd at work with a toothbrush and floss in a little pack that I keep in my desk to brush my teeth after lunch, and I’m really OK with it because I don’t have little brown nubs in my mouth (that was a little too far!) But avoid smoking, tobacco stains are some of the worst to get out of your teeth and it’s just really a bad habit anyway (think about ways to quit). And finally, when you are drinking tea or coffee or anything that might stain those beautiful chompers, drink through a straw, so at least you don’t stain your smilers (they are what everyone sees first!)

So brush those teeth, eat raw crunchy fruits and veg, and when you do need your caffeine fix?  Use a straw (just make sure that your beverage is a good drinking temperature or risk burning your mouth!) and keep those teeth happy and white!

Yours in Good Health