Oil pulling has been around for thousands of years, but this ancient Indian folk remedy is just now starting to gain attention in the west. What exactly is oil pulling and how can this Ayurvedic ritual benefit your oral health?
Also known as "oil swishing," oil pulling requires you to swish coconut or sesame oil in your mouth for 20 minutes. What does all of that swishing and sloshing around do? It helps to eliminate bacteria and improve your overall dental health.
Dental health is not the only benefit of oil pulling. Many avid "pullers" are claiming that the practice has helped them clear up their acne and improve other health conditions.
The benefits of this ancient practice extend far beyond eliminating bacteria and freshening breath. Many people have experienced improvements in the following conditions:
. Hormone imbalances
. Liver issues
. Infections and more
If you are purely concerned with dental improvements, oil pulling can help:
. Whiten your teeth
. Eliminate plaque
. Help prevent gingivitis
As an added bonus, oil pulling is completely natural if you use high quality oils.
How it Works
How does oil pulling actually work? The theory behind this practice is that the act of swishing the oil around in your mouth "pulls" out bacteria. Performing the ritual for 20 minutes provides enough time to pull out the bacteria without the body reabsorbing the oil. Sesame oil and coconut oil are the two most popular choices as they both contain antibacterial properties.
In theory, the practice makes sense not only from a dental health perspective, but from an overall health perspective as well. Many infections and harmful bacteria can enter the blood through the mouth. Eliminating the bacteria before it can reach the bloodstream may improve or prevent certain health conditions. Some proponents of the practice have seen fantastic improvements in their overall health, while others have only seen dental health improvements. In either case, oil pulling appears to be beneficial.
What Dentists Have to Say
Whiter teeth, clear skin and improved oral health sound like excellent benefits, but what do dentists have to say about oil pulling?
Dentists that have weighed in on the subject stated that no research has been conducted to back up these claims. However, this does not mean that they don't recommend oil pulling. In fact, many encourage it. If oil pulling gets people interested in their oral health, they are all for the idea. It is a simple ritual that is safe and easy to do. There are no harmful side effects, so dentists see no reason not to try oil pulling.
How to Do It
Oil pulling is best performed in the morning and on an empty stomach.
It is important not to be too overzealous when first starting oil pulling. The practice suggests using 1 tablespoon of oil and swishing for 20 minutes, but this may be a bit too much for those who are just getting started. Instead, it is best to start gradually and work your way up to a tablespoon of oil. Start out with one teaspoon and swish for just five or ten minutes.
Some people feel nauseous or uncomfortable at first, but these feelings quickly subside once you take a deep breath and relax. Are you ready to get started?
. Put one teaspoon to one tablespoon of oil into your mouth. Again, start out with just one teaspoon and work your way up to one tablespoon. Some people prefer just to stick with two teaspoons, which is also fine. Adding a few drops of peppermint extract to the oil may make the taste more tolerable. Coconut or sesame oil are the preferred oils, but many believe that sesame produces the best results.
. Swish the oil for 20 minutes. This is probably the hardest part of the process. Twenty minutes is just long enough to eliminate the bacteria, but not too long that the body starts reabsorbing the toxins. It may be hard to swish for 20 minutes when you first start oil pulling. Many people have found it much easier to perform the ritual while they are going through their morning routine.
. Spit the oil into a trash can or plastic baggie. Do not spit the oil into a toilet, sink or bathtub. The oil will solidify and cause issues with your pipes or septic system.
. Rinse with warm water. This will eliminate any remaining oil and bacteria from your mouth.
. Brush as normal. Many people prefer to brush their teeth right after oil pulling.
Oil pulling is a great addition to any oral health routine, but dentists warn that this practice should not replace brushing and flossing. Instead, oil pulling should be seen as a great way to complement your daily brushing routine.