What is oil pulling?
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing a tablespoon of sesame, sunflower, or coconut oil in your mouth for 20 minutes. Traditionally it’s been used for a wide range of health issues, but in recent years it’s gained notable popularity for natural teeth whitening and detoxing. Strange as it may feel (particularly the first time you do it), it’s a remedy worth utilizing to improve oral health and whole body health.
How to do oil pulling?
- Choose a high quality oil such as organic sesame oil or organic coconut oil (ideally stored in a glass jar.) A drop of clove oil or a tiny drop of oregano oil can also be used for further antibacterial and medicinal purposes.
- Put 1 tablespoon of oil in your mouth (some people use as little as 1-2 teaspoons.) I recommend flossing first.
- Slowly swish the oil around for twenty minutes. Experts often say you need this much time to loosen the bacteria and plaque. Focus on pushing and pulling the oil in between the teeth for the most effective approach. FYI, the oil will become thicker as it mixes with saliva and air so if you find your mouth is too full spit a little out as you go. Either way, don’t gargle or swallow any of the oil.
- Spit the oil out into a trash can since oil will gunk up your plumbing pipes. Once it’s spit out the oil will look frothy white.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water. You’ll want to remove any residual oil that might have bacteria and plaque clinging to it.
- Brush your teeth and tongue with an all-natural toothpaste and then thoroughly rinse your toothbrush.
Bonus: Massage your gums afterwards with a drop of essential oil, like clove or tea tree, to stave off unwanted bacteria as long as possible.
The oral health benefits of oil pulling can include:
- Improved dental health with plaque removal
- Reduced risk of cavities, bleeding gums, and gum disease (gingivitis and receding gums)
- Improved breath with removing non-beneficial bacteria and its waste that contributes to bad breath
How oral health is connected to the rest of the body
When bad bacteria is allowed to run rampant in the mouth it, as well as its dangerous byproducts, can affect the rest of the body and even increase the risk of life-threatening issues such as heart disease.
My personal experience with oil pulling
The first time I did oil pulling I was amazed to see that my teeth were in fact whiter. I had thought that because I rarely drink red wine and I never drink coffee that the benefits would be incredibly subtle, but lo and behold my teeth were all sparkly and bright. So, how is that possible? Well, basically all that swishing oil loosens bacteria, plaque (a biofilm of bacteria), and, some would argue, tartar right off your teeth and gums.
How often can I do oil pulling?
Experts say you can do oil pulling 1-3 times daily for up to 30 days. After that you may want to reduce the frequency to once a day, once a week, or once a month depending on the results you’ve gained and what your schedule permits.
Does oil pulling really detox the body?
There’s a lot of debate over whether or not oil pulling can properly detox the body. Removing bad bacteria, and the inflammation or acidic pH, that can come with it is certainly beneficial and cleansing on its own. However, oil pulling plays a more indirect role in ridding the body of toxins that have accumulated from chemicals, stress hormones, and heavy metals. So, the natural remedy is a great compliment to a holistic lifestyle, however comprehensive and efficient detoxing is best done through a well structured, plant-based program that integrates specific herbs known for their detoxifying benefits.
The hidden benefits of oil pulling
Although some will still claim that oil pulling is a cure-all for healing everything from allergies to skin disorders to cancer I think it’s best thought of as a good oral hygiene practice and nutrient delivery system. After all, the essential fatty acids are able to bypass the digestive system and be directly absorbed through the gums and tissues within the mouth,. By incorporating an antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory oil such as coconut or sesame, the rest of the body can further benefit from the inside out.
On top of that, the simple act of swishing oil in your mouth for twenty minutes helps increase circulation throughout the neck and head (especially the sinuses), prompting lymphatic drainage. Since the lymphatic system is like the janitorial cleanup crew of the body, flushing it of waste and toxins is a great way to boost your vitality and focus on preventative health as well.
Of course, a healthy, clean body is always the best approach to looking our best and slowing down an unnecessarily accelerated aging process. So whether you have goals centered around oral hygiene, detoxing, beauty, or a mix of all three see how you can incorporate oil pulling on a regular basis and reap the benefits.