Oil pulling is growing in popularity for people who are concerned about their dental health. It involves swishing oil around your mouth to pull out bacteria and debris. The dental benefits of oil pulling extend to children as well as adults, but it can be hard to start an oil pulling routine with your child. Here are some tips to help you:
1. Lower the recommended amount.
In many cases, when you look at oil pulling directions, they advise you to use place a tablespoon of oil in your mouth. Don't try using this amount with your child -- it is too much, and they are likely to choke on it. Instead, start with a small amount like half a teaspoon and work your way up depending on what your child's mouth can handle.
2. Take it slow at first.
When oil pulling, your are supposed to swish oil around your mouth and pull it between your teeth. If your child is not old enough to gargle, he or she is likely too young to oil pull. However, if your kid can gargle, swish and spit, he or she is the perfect age for oil pulling.
Just take it slow at first. Most people recommend that you let the oil sit in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes, but this is likely too long for most kids. Grab an egg timer, and try it for 30 seconds the first time. Then, let your child slowly work his or her way up to five minutes or more.
Alternatively, advise your child to focus on different parts of the mouth one at a time. For example, have him or her swish oil on one side, spit and then focus on the other side.
3. Experiment with different types of oil.
At times, when children have trouble with oil pulling, it is because they don't like the texture of the oil. Working your way into oil pulling slowly will make it easier for your child to handle the texture and feel of the oil, but if he or she doesn't like the taste, you may need to experiment with different types of oils.
According to research, sesame oil is linked to reducing plaque, improving gum health and removing microorganisms from the mouth. However, this is not the only type of oil you can use. While trying to find a taste that works for your child, you may also want to experiment with coconut oil, grapeseed oil or other types of oils.
4. Add essential oils.
If your child still doesn't like the flavor of the oil, add a few drops of a tasty essential oil to the oil you use for pulling. For flavor, try experimenting with clove, orange, lemon or peppermint essential oil. If you want to give your child's dental health a boost while also altering the flavor of the oil, add a few drops of an essential oil with antiseptic properties such as oregano or tea tree oil.
5. Make oil pulling chews.
If you want your child to have the potential dental benefits of oil pulling but he or she is still having troubles with the task, consider making some oil pull chews.
To make them, you need to use an oil like coconut oil that solidifies at room temperature. Heat your oil and mix it with essential oils if desired. While it is hot, pour it into molds. You can use the same type of molds you use to make chocolates or other small candies. Let the coconut oil harden in the trays, and then, pop them up. When you are guiding your child through his or her daily dental routine, hand him or her one of the chews.
As he or she chews on it, it will draw the debris off his or her teeth, and as the chew heats up, it will start to become less solid and more oily. When your child is done, he or she simply needs to spit it out.
For more tips on helping your child with his or her dental health, contact a pediatric dentist, such as those at Apollo Dental Center.