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You Can Use Coconut Oil for Oil Pulling Too

Oil pulling involves 'rinsing' your mouth with coconut oil, much like you would with a mouthwash (except you shouldn't attempt to gargle with it). The oil is "worked" around your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for about 10-15 minutes. When you're first starting out, you may want to try it for just five minutes at a time.

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April 25, 2015 | mercola.com | By Dr. Mercola

This process allows the oil to "pull out" cavity-causing bacteria and other debris from your mouth. Once the oil turns thin and milky white, you'll know it's time to spit it out. As reported by the Indian Journal of Dental Research:8

"Oil pulling has been used extensively as a traditional Indian folk remedy without scientific proof for many years for strengthening teeth, gums, and jaws and to prevent decay, oral malodor, bleeding gums, and dryness of throat and cracked lips."

However, oil pulling does appear to have a significant cleansing and healing effect, which is backed by science:

- Oil pulling reduced counts of Streptococcus mutans bacteria – a significant contributor to tooth decay – in the plaque and saliva of children.9 Researchers concluded, "Oil pulling can be used as an effective preventive adjunct in maintaining and improving oral health."
- Oil pulling significantly reduced plaque, improved gum health, and reduced aerobic microorganisms in plaque among adolescent boys with plaque-induced gingivitis10
- Oil pulling is as effective as mouthwash at improving bad breath and reducing the microorganisms that may cause it11
- Oil pulling benefits your mouth, in part, via its mechanical cleaning action.12 Researchers noted, "The myth that the effect of oil pulling therapy on oral health was just a placebo effect has been broken and there are clear indications of possible saponification and emulsification process, which enhances its mechanical cleaning action."
It's worth noting that the above studies used sesame oil, which is traditionally recommended.

Why I Don't Recommend Fluoridated Toothpaste

Fluoride has long been heralded as the answer to decaying teeth, but it's been receiving increasing scrutiny in recent years, and for good reason. A groundbreaking study published in the journal Langmuir13 uncovered that the supposedly beneficial fluorapatite layer formed on your teeth from fluoride is a mere six nanometers thick.

To understand just how thin this is, you'd need 10,000 of these layers to get the width of a strand of your hair! Scientists now question whether this ultra-thin layer can actually protect your enamel and provide any discernible benefit, considering the fact that it is quickly eliminated by simple chewing. They wrote:

"…it has to be asked whether such narrow… layers really can act as protective layers for the enamel."

In fact, toothpaste that contains the naturally occurring cacao extract theobromine better repaired and re-mineralized exposed dentin (the tissue that makes up the bulk of your teeth below the enamel) than fluoride toothpaste, according to one study.14 Not to mention, fluoride toothpaste is often the largest single source of fluoride intake for young children and is a major risk factor for disfiguring dental fluorosis. This is because children swallow a large amount of the paste that they put in their mouth.

In fact, research has shown that it is not uncommon for young children to swallow more fluoride from toothpaste alone than is recommended as an entire day's ingestion from all sources.15 Swallowing fluoride, as is the case with fluoridated drinking water, is especially detrimental to your health, as the science clearly demonstrates that fluoride is a toxic chemical that accumulates in your tissues over time, wreaks havoc with enzymes, and produces a number of serious adverse health effects, including neurological and endocrine dysfunction.

Children are particularly at risk for adverse effects of overexposure. If you have a young child, therefore, it's recommended that you use a non-fluoride toothpaste, although I recommend the same for adults as well.

A Comprehensive Approach to Improve Your Dental Health

Toothpaste containing natural ingredients, like baking soda, essential oils, xylitol, and others, appears to be more effective and safer than fluoride-containing toothpastes. There's no reason to risk exposing yourself to fluoride or other dangerous chemicals like triclosan and sodium lauryl sulfate. Here are my basic guidelines for optimizing your dental health, safely and naturally:

- Avoid fluoridated water and fluoridated toothpaste. Instead use natural non-fluoride toothpaste, either homemade or from a reputable brand.
- Minimize your sugar and grain consumption. Keep your fructose intake to less than 25 grams per day. Avoid processed foods.
- Make sure you consume a diet rich in fresh, whole foods, fermented vegetables, and grass-fed meats, which will ensure you're getting plenty of the minerals that are so important for strong bones and teeth.
- Practice good oral hygiene and get regular cleanings from a mercury-free natural dentist. Scrubbing your teeth briskly with a washcloth before brushing can also help to remove the built-up biofilm.

Finally, remember that nature provides many natural solutions to freshen your breath. Chewing on fresh parsley, mint, cilantro, or ginger slices is a natural breath freshener, for instance. Placing a cucumber slice on the roof of your mouth may also help to rid your mouth of odor-causing bacteria. According to the principles of Ayurveda, eating cucumbers may also help to release excess heat in your stomach, which is said to be a primary cause of bad breath.

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