In with the Old, In with the New

Researchers are theorizing that using nanoparticles may be a new way to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. The ancient practice of oil pulling claims to accomplish the same.

Modern Research

A new study was conducted at the University of Pennsylvania based on a theory of combining hydrogen peroxide with nanoparticles. The idea is that the combination of the two could clear biofilms on teeth. From sugar consumption, biofilms form and hide bacteria. Alas, the mixture cleared the biofilms, preventing the possibility of tooth decay from hidden bacteria.
Nanoparticles are tricky. The researchers knew they could act like enzymes in the right environment. This would allow them to produce free radicals that would kill bacteria in the mouth and on teeth. Free radicals, however, are what we try to eliminate inside our body. The researchers address this concern and claim the quantity of nanoparticles used so minute that it shouldn’t have an adverse effect.

Lucky Exams

Here’s where human trials come into play. So far, the experiments have been used on surfaces similar to that of tooth enamel. Streptococcus mutants are the bacterium that causes tooth decay. Using the unique mixture, over 99% of the bacteria was killed within five minutes. That’s about 5,000 times greater result than using just plain ole hydrogen peroxide.
The scientists reported that just one-minute treatments with the solution (twice a day) reduced the risk of cavity—tremendously. That, of course, is compared to using just hydrogen peroxide. Oh, and the study was conducted on rats.

Old, Old, Very Old-School Dentistry

It may sound bizarre, but swishing oil inside your mouth has been practiced for thousands of years. The best oil would be coconut, sunflower, or sesame. You don’t gargle, but rather swish the oil around your mouth and gums. You also ”pull” the oil through your teeth. It’s called “oil pulling” and it touts many oral benefits that also translate to increased overall health.

Oil-Pulling Lesson

Dentists and hygienists recommend 20 minutes, twice a day, for optimum response. Beginning with five minutes is an excellent start. Place about a tablespoon of oil in your mouth—again, do not gargle with it. And don’t swallow it. Swish it through every nook and cranny, pulling the liquid between your teeth. Use your tongue. Work your jaw. When you’re done, spit it out and rinse with water or even a baking soda mix.

It’s Not Just for Your Tooth

Oil pulling improves gum health, too. Scientific studies show that this process significantly reduces plaque and kills bacteria. You don’t want bacteria in your mouth because it’s a very quick way for it to enter into your bloodstream. That can lead to disease anywhere in your body.
Proper dental care through brushing and flossing is essential. Extra steps, such as oil pulling, can help prevent decay and other unwanted health issues. See your hygienist and dentist regularly. As for the newest studies, perhaps someday shortly we’ll find, a quicker, more efficient way to thwart cavities. In the meanwhile, curb those sugars, brush, floss, and pull.
If you’re looking for more up-to-date studies on best health practices for you and your family, check out