It’s not uncommon to hear about coconut oil’s myriad health benefits, from its moisturizing properties for the skin to its utility in cooking as a healthier alternative to traditional fats. However, one of its less-recognised yet highly effective applications is in oral health, particularly against periodontal disease. “Oil pulling”, an age-old practice rooted in Ayurvedic medicine, involves swishing oil in the mouth for extended periods and has recently gained attention for its potential benefits in combatting periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth, causing problems such as bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, and in severe cases, tooth loss. It’s usually a result of poor oral hygiene leading to plaque build-up, which harbours harmful bacteria that cause inflammation and damage to the oral tissues.
Now, where does coconut oil pulling come into play? Here are some of the benefits of this simple, natural practice in combating periodontal disease.
1. Reduces Plaque and Bacteria
Coconut oil pulling can aid in reducing plaque formation and plaque-induced gingivitis. The medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) found in coconut oil, particularly lauric acid, are known for their antimicrobial properties. They have the ability to eradicate harmful bacteria, fungi, and viruses, and can therefore help keep the bacterial population in check.
A study published in the Nigerian Medical Journal found that oil pulling using coconut oil could significantly decrease plaque and signs of gingivitis in adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis. These outcomes were comparable to those achieved by using chlorhexidine mouthwash, a conventional treatment for gum disease.
2. Alleviates Inflammation and Swelling
Coconut oil possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the swelling and redness associated with periodontal disease. Oil pulling helps to soothe and heal inflamed tissues in the mouth, contributing to improved oral health. Additionally, the antioxidant properties of coconut oil can enhance the body’s ability to fight infections and heal damaged tissue.
3. Enhances Oral Hygiene
Coconut oil pulling can be a great addition to your daily oral hygiene routine. The oil’s natural emulsifying properties can help clean hard-to-reach areas in the mouth that might be missed during brushing or flossing. This ensures a thorough cleaning and aids in the prevention of plaque build-up, which is the primary cause of gum disease.
4. Whitens Teeth
While this doesn’t directly relate to periodontal disease, it’s worth mentioning that regular oil pulling can also lead to brighter, whiter teeth. Coconut oil pulling aids in the removal of stains and discolouration, contributing to an overall healthier and more radiant smile.
As a natural, non-invasive, and affordable treatment, coconut oil pulling is an accessible way to maintain oral health and fight periodontal disease. However, it should not replace regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups, but rather complement them. If you’re suffering from periodontal disease, it’s vital to consult with your dentist or oral health specialist for comprehensive treatment. With a balanced approach to oral health care that incorporates both modern dentistry and natural remedies like coconut oil pulling, it’s possible to effectively combat periodontal disease.