History & Benefits of Oil Pulling

Contributor: Cristin Smith
Photographer: Taylor Balding
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Oil pulling has surged in popularity in recent years. Although there may be a lack of science to support certain claims, the positive experiences of numerous bloggers, holistic health practitioners and friends have led many to try it for themselves.

What exactly is oil pulling? Simply put, it’s the practice of swishing a teaspoon of edible oil—much like you would mouthwash—for 15 to 20 minutes, once a day. But more on that later. 

This simple, inexpensive practice has its roots in ancient Ayurvedic tradition and is often considered the oldest form of dental health care. The Chakra Samhita claims numerous diseases are curable using the method and should be used to maintain overall health and well-being. That may seem like a lofty assumption, but our teeth and their root systems dive far into our jaw bones, connecting them to our bodies in deeper ways than we may realize.

Oil pulling helps balance microflora of the mouth, and it is said to remove toxins that have built up in the body over time.

 
 

Benefits of Oil Pulling

The American Dental Association doesn’t recommend oil pulling as a replacement for more conventional methods; however, studies have shown it works as well as other antimicrobial mouth rinses. Regular oil pulling can help with some oral health issues, such as reducing bad breath. strengthening gums, and eliminating plaque. Oil pulling shouldn’t replace your current dental health routine, but can be added as a supplementary practice.

For those who oil pull as part of their daily routine, however, claim results that are much more impressive than simply being free from bad breath. Although nearly every person experiences fresher breath, they also boast whiter teeth, fewer skin blemishes, reduced tooth sensitivity and, even, healed cavities.

Best Oils for Oral Health

Any food-grade oil could be used, but sesame, sunflower and coconut oil are the most common. Sesame oil is traditionally recommended, but modern practitioners tend to opt for coconut oil due its antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

How to Oil Pull

  1. Place 1-2 teaspoons of edible oil in your mouth, and let melt. (This only takes a few seconds, but if you don’t like the feel of it you can slightly heat the oil before starting.)
  2. Start swishing! Pull the oil from side-to-side and front-to-back through all your teeth and around your mouth. 
  3. Swish for 15-20 minutes, or until the oil is clear, then spit it into the trash can (never swallow it or flush it down a drain!) and rinse with warm water.

If you’ve never oil pulled before, 15 minutes may be too long. If you notice your jaw becoming sore or tired, that’s okay! Rather than make yourself uncomfortable—and risk never trying it again—pull the oil for shorter periods of time, say 10 minutes max, until your muscles adapt.