Oil's Well That Ends Well: The 411 on Oil Pulling

Though it’s been around for centuries as an Ayurvedic practice, oil pulling has been gaining popularity in the U.S. in the last few years. It’s a natural oral care practice that’s safe, nontoxic and effective, making oil pulling an excellent alternative to chemical-based oral care solutions.

WHAT IS OIL PULLING?

Oil pulling is an ancient oral hygiene practice originating from India in which oils are swished in your mouth for an extended period of time in order to pull harmful toxins and bacteria from the mouth, while also whitening teeth, and reducing odor.

It may sound a bit strange, but oil pulling is easy! There are many high-quality, natural oils you can use for oil pulling, the most popular being coconut oil. Start with a tablespoon of the oil of your choice, and swish in your mouth (just like mouthwash) for a minimum of 10 minutes. The longer you keep swishing the oil in your mouth the more bacteria the oil removes. When time’s up, spit out the oil and you’re done!

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

Besides being a gentler, more natural alternative to mouthwash, oil pulling is also highly effective. The oil pulling method can significantly reduce the main bacteria in your mouth, streptococcus mutans, which causes plaque buildup and gingivitis. Studies have shown that oil pulling with coconut or sesame oil daily is just as significant at protecting against gingivitis as using mouthwash.

Another great benefit of oil pulling is reducing bad breath! Bad breath is caused from the smell of chemicals and gases produced in the mouth, and also from different foods we eat. The oil will “pull” the bacteria from your mouth, which will helps improve oral hygiene, and reduces your chances of having chronic bad breath. Since oil pulling has been proven to decrease the amount of bacteria in the mouth, this will also help prevent tooth decay and cavities.

Studies are still being conducted to find out how much oil pulling could help whiten teeth, but people have seen improvement in their oral hygiene, and less plaque buildup from oil pulling. This can dramatically slow down the process of yellowing of the teeth and help keep your teeth looking white for longer.

WHAT ARE THE BEST PRACTICES FOR OIL PULLING?

The most common oils for oil pulling are coconut, sunflower, sesame and olive oil. Olive oil is a great choice due to its ability to fight inflammation, which is good for your gums, especially if you already suffer from sensitive or inflamed gums, or gingivitis.

It is recommended as best practice to oil pull for 20 minutes daily after flossing and brushing in the morning. This may seem like a long time, but you do not need to swish vigorously the whole 20 minutes. During the 20 minutes, this would be a great time to finish any other things you might need to get done, such as chores around the house, getting ready for your day, or making breakfast. You can also work your way up by only swishing for 5 minutes, and increase as you get used to oil pulling. It can take time for your jaw to get used to swishing for 20 minutes.

It's best not to swallow any of the oil, since it contains toxins and bacteria pulled from your mouth, but if you do - don't panic! After the 20 minutes is up, spit the oil into a trash can (to avoid oil build up in your sink or toilet) and rinse your mouth with water.

 

Have you tried oil pulling? Let us know your experiences in the comments below!

 

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