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Oil pulling can reduce gum disease, improve oral health and decrease risk of heart and pregnancy issues

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(NaturalNews) Brushing your teeth and keeping your mouth clean aren't just about keeping your teeth white and your breath smelling super fresh. Although those things do matter and are a big reason many of us maintain our oral health, there is a lot more to it than that; your overall health is actually affected by how well you do -- or do not -- take care of your mouth.

Failing to properly keep up in the oral hygiene department could lead to periodontal disease, which basically means that the gumline around the teeth is compromised. It's a form of gum disease that throws your mouth's health off balance, and according to numerous sources including the Mayo Clinic, it can jeopardize your entire body's health.

According to the Mayo Clinic, periodontitis could be linked to osteoporosis. Moreover, tooth loss prior to the age of 35, which can happen when the gums are in extremely bad shape, has been associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Health hazards associated with periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is thought to also play a role in premature birth and low birth weight, the exacerbation of autoimmune diseases, diabetes and heart disease. This is mostly because bacteria from the mouth can spread to the body's bloodstream and wreak havoc on the system. Clogged arteries and stroke, for example, might be related to inflammation and infections brought on by oral bacteria that is not kept in check.

"People look at the mouth as isolated, but it's the window to the entire body," says Jessica Emery, a doctor of dental medicine in Chicago, Illinois. "Allowing bad bacteria to get into the bloodstream can affect systemic health."

What can you do to ensure your mouth stays as healthy as possible? Rather than rely on harsh chemicals found in the oral rinses on department store shelves (which often lead to dry mouth in many people), turn to a more natural alternative: oil pulling.

Oil pulling involves swishing your mouth with coconut oil, a common item many people already have in their homes. According to Emery, the ancient technique is effective because "Oral bacteria are fat-loving. Swishing the oil around your mouth attracts the bad bugs to help pull it off of surfaces."

Oil pulling: how to do it

Not just any oil will do, however. Be sure to use cold-pressed oil. Simply put a small, comfortable amount in your mouth and swish it around. Ideally, this should be done for up to 20 minutes if possible. The bacteria-attracting process is in full effect with every swish; after doing this, spit the coconut oil out in the garbage to avoid clogging pipes, then rinse and brush. In addition to other oral hygiene practices that you should already be doing like flossing and brushing, oil pulling helps keep your mouth -- and in turn, your body's -- health in check.

Oil pulling has been found to improve bad breath and reduce plaque, gingivitis and tooth sensitivity.

Lyla Blake-Gumbs, M.D., M.P.H., who is a staff physician and assistant professor of integrative
medicine at Cleveland Letter College of Medicine, urges people to think of oil pulling as a "magnet for microbes" in which fatty oral bacteria adheres to the fats in the oil and are extracted when you spit everything out.

Effectiveness of oil pulling demonstrated

Although oil pulling should be used in conjunction with a regular dental routine and shouldn't be a substitute for visiting the dentist or used as a method to treat any gum problems, its effectiveness has been demonstrated.

For example, Michelle Hurlbutt, RDH, MSDH, an associate professor of dental hygiene at Loma Linda University in Southern California, discovered that the bacteria associated with cavities was diminished among people who swished their mouths with coconut oil; a two-fold decrease in bacteria was noted. When people in her small study stopped using coconut oil in this manner, their levels of bad bacteria began to rise again.

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