Root canal treatment is often necessary when the pulp inside your tooth becomes infected or inflamed. The procedure involves removing the infected tissue, disinfecting the inside of the tooth, and sealing it up.
While root canals are effective at saving an infected tooth, they can be expensive and are invasive procedures. Many people want to avoid root canal treatment if at all possible.
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic oral health practice that has gained popularity in recent years as a natural way to improve oral health and potentially avoid invasive procedures like root canals.
What is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling involves swishing oil around in your mouth to draw toxins out of your teeth and gums. Traditionally, sesame or coconut oil is used.
The most common oil pulling procedure is:
1. Put 1-2 teaspoons of oil in your mouth first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
2. Swish the oil around your mouth, pulling it between your teeth for 15-20 minutes. Don’t swallow the oil.
3. Spit the oil out into a trash can when you’re done. Avoid spitting it into the sink so it doesn’t clog pipes.
4. Rinse out your mouth thoroughly with water.
5. Brush your teeth as normal.
The oil acts as a magnet, pulling bacteria, toxins, and plaque out from between your teeth and gums. As it moves around your mouth, it also coats your teeth and gums to protect them.
How Can Oil Pulling Help Avoid Root Canal?
There are a few ways oil pulling may help prevent cavities and tooth decay that lead to needing a root canal:
Reduces harmful oral bacteria
Oil pulling reduces the amount of harmful S. mutans bacteria in the mouth that are responsible for cavities and tooth decay. With less bacteria attacking your teeth, you’re less likely to get infections or cavities.
Oil pulling has anti-inflammatory effects in the mouth. Reducing inflammation protects the pulp inside your tooth, making you less prone to infections of the root canal needing treatment.
The oils used in oil pulling can help strengthen teeth and bones by providing necessary fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Stronger teeth are more resistant to decay and infection.
Improves oral hygiene
Swishing oil around your mouth is like giving your teeth and gums a deep cleaning. Oil pulling removes plaque buildup, which lowers your chance of getting gum disease and tooth decay.
Alkalizes oral pH
Oil pulling creates an alkaline environment in your mouth, which makes it harder for bacteria that need an acidic environment to grow and thrive. A more alkaline mouth pH protects your enamel.
The Research on Oil Pulling for Root Canal Prevention
Several clinical studies provide promising evidence that oil pulling reduces plaque, gingivitis, and harmful oral bacteria. Here are some of the key research findings:
- A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research in 2014 found that oil pulling reduced S. mutans bacteria in plaque and saliva by up to 60% in just 20 days.
- In a 2017 study, sesame oil pulling for 10 minutes per day led to a significant reduction in gingivitis and plaque accumulation compared to regular oral care after just 2 weeks.
- Multiple studies have found coconut oil pulling to be just as effective as the leading prescription chlorhexidine mouthwash at reducing gingivitis, plaque, and harmful oral bacteria.
- A systematic review published in 2019 concluded that oil pulling is effective at reducing plaque and gingivitis, though more research is still needed on long term impacts.
While there are no studies directly linking oil pulling to a reduction in needed root canals, the research shows clear benefits for oral health. More research is warranted, but oil pulling could be a beneficial addition to your oral care routine if you’re looking to avoid invasive dental work.
How to Do Oil Pulling to Prevent Root Canal
If you want to use oil pulling to try to avoid needing a root canal, here are some tips:
Swishing oil every day provides the most benefit, ideally first thing in the morning. Even just a few minutes of oil pulling daily can make a difference.
Use good quality oil
Cold-pressed, organic coconut or sesame oil are best. Make sure it’s food grade. Don’t use canola or other vegetable oils.
Don’t swallow the oil
You’re pulling toxins out and don’t want to swallow them. Spit the used oil into the trash.
Do it for the full recommended time
Aim for 15-20 minutes of swishing for best results. Many people work up to this gradually.
Contact your dentist
Get any cavities treated right away before they turn into a root canal. Use oil pulling alongside good dental care.
Improve your diet
Cut down on sugary and starchy foods that feed the bacteria causing decay. Focus on whole foods and boost your dental health through diet.
Don’t neglect routine dental visits
Oil pulling complements dental visits and cleanings every 6 months, not replaces them. Professional care is still important.
The Bottom Line
Oil pulling could be a beneficial natural therapy to help reduce your risk of needing invasive and costly dental work like a root canal. The research looks promising that swishing oils like coconut oil and sesame oil can significantly cut back on plaque buildup, oral bacteria, and gingivitis.
However, maintaining good oral hygiene and getting regular dental checkups are still critical for keeping your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.
View oil pulling as one tool you can add to your toolkit, along with brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, eating a low-sugar diet, and seeing your dentist regularly. By taking proactive daily steps to care for your oral health, you may be able to avoid painful and expensive endodontic treatments.