Oil Pulling for a Deeper Clean in the Mouth

In recent years, oil pulling has skyrocketed in the popularity race. And it’s no wonder. Our mouth is the portal to our whole body. As people search for natural remedies to improve their overall health, good oral health also comes to the forefront. Many people believe this ancient Indian practice helps treat things like bad breath, cavities, or gum disease.

Key takeaways:

If you are experiencing any of these common dental problems, you will want to keep reading as we go over everything you need to know about oil pulling and discover if it’s worth the hype.

What is oil pulling?

Oil pulling is the act of putting oil into your mouth and swishing it around for a set amount of time before spitting it out. Oil pulling has gained popularity over the past 10 years, but it is not a new concept. This practice has been around for over a thousand years. It was first documented in the ancient Indian holistic medicine called Ayurveda. Ayurvedic medicine is based on “natural” healing. Therefore, oil pulling is commonly done with oils that have natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Although there is not much research on the subject, oil pulling is believed to remove heavy metals, bacteria, and toxins that accumulate in our mouths. These substances are in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and all around us in the environment. Once the toxins enter our mouths, they can travel through the entire body. Swishing oil helps pull the toxins out of the gums and from around the teeth, possibly detoxing the whole body. The oil particles attract and trap the toxins, then are spit out.

How to do oil pulling:

Oil pulling is a simple step you can easily add to your daily oral care routine. No special appliances are required. Just grab the olive oil right from your kitchen cabinet. Head to your bathroom and follow these simple steps:

  1. Measure the oil. Use 1 tablespoon of oil using a measuring spoon or medicine cup.
  2. Set a timer. It is easy to lose track of time while you are pulling oil. Plus, doing other things like folding clothes, loading the dishwasher, or even taking a shower can help pass the time.
  3. “Pull” the oil in the mouth. Start with 2–5 minutes at a time, and pull or swish the oil around the mouth and between teeth. Gradually work your way up to swishing for 15-20 minutes each time.
  4. Gargle after swishing. Tilt the head back to allow the oil to reach the throat area. A quick gargle for 15–30 seconds will add benefits as well.
  5. Spit using a cup or trashcan. Remove as much oil as possible. Continue spitting over the next 10 minutes as well. But avoid spitting oil into the sink or toilet as it may clog the drain.
  6. Rinse using tap or bottled water. Swish and rinse the remainder of the oil out of your mouth.

When you first add oil pulling to your oral care routine, try to do it at least 3 times a week. Then, work your way into including it daily to get the most benefits. It is recommended to do oil pulling first thing in the morning, before eating. For some, oil pulling can trigger gagging or nausea. However, it can be done at whatever time works best for you.

Systemic benefits of oil pulling

While there are many systemic benefits often associated with oil pulling, most lack scientific evidence. That doesn’t mean a person’s overall health isn’t improved with oil pulling. The mouth is the portal to the body. A person’s oral health and overall health are often directly related. One almost always affects the other. This can happen in 3 main ways:

  1. Saliva. When we swallow, bacteria from our mouth can be introduced to the rest of our body.
  2. Blood circulation. Our blood flows through every part of the body. If there is an oral infection, like periodontitis, that bacteria is carried to our other organs. Most commonly, the heart and lungs.
  3. Inflammation. Oral inflammation has been proven to play a role in systemic diseases affecting the body. When inflammation is present anywhere, our body is not able to heal itself as well.

Therefore, the health of your mouth can contribute to other health conditions like cardiovascular disease, endocarditis, pneumonia, diabetes. Oil pulling can greatly reduce the bacteria in the mouth. Less bacteria means less inflammation. Which also means overall better systemic health.

Oral benefits of oil pulling

According to Ayurvedic texts, oil pulling could possibly help more than 30 systemic diseases.

Here are some ways oil pulling may benefit your oral health:

  • Prevent cavities
  • Improves oral hygiene
  • Reduces bacteria in the mouth
  • And strengthens the muscles of the mouth and jaw
  • Prevents bad breath
  • Whitens teeth
  • Soothes mouth sores
  • Reduces gum inflammation or gingivitis

Ayurveda also suggests different sections of the tongue can affect major organs in the body. Therefore, oil pulling can benefit the heart, lungs, kidneys, spine, small intestines, liver, stomach, and much more by detoxing the mouth.

Which oils are best for pulling?

Organic cold compressed oils are usually recommended for oil pulling. Commercial oils often contain petroleum from the extraction process. Petroleum products can cause hormone disruption and are linked to some types of cancer. Also, cold compressed oils do not contain trans fats. Therefore, make sure to stick with one of these oils:

  • Sesame oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Sunflower oil

While there are other oils, extracts, and liquids sometimes useful in oil pulling, these oils provide the greatest benefits. Sunflower and sesame oil have been proven to reduce inflammation related to plaque. Coconut oil and olive oil both have excellent anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. So, make sure to choose a high-quality organic and cold compressed oil to get the most health benefits possible.

Oral care routine

A good oral care routine is key for optimal overall health. By taking care of our mouth, we can provide critical aid to the rest of our body. So, make sure to include these steps in your daily oral care routine:

  • Brushing. The American Dental Association recommends using a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste to help strengthen the teeth and brush 2–3 times a day.
  • Flossing. Flossing or using water flosser can be beneficial as brushing your teeth only cleans 60% of tooth surfaces in the mouth. Flossing with traditional floss or a water flosser can get the rest.
  • Mouthwash. Adding a mouthwash can help with bacteria control, relieve dry mouth, or strengthen then teeth.
  • Tongue scraper. Food particles and bacteria can hide on the tongue surface. Using a tongue scraper can help maintain a healthier mouth.
  • Oil-pulling. Can be added up to 3 times a day to help remove harmful bacteria and toxins from your mouth.

Don’t forget to keep your regular dental cleaning every 6 months. Calculus and plaque can build up on your teeth, below the gumline, where you can’t see it. This leads to inflammation and gum disease. So don’t skip out on those dental visits. Your teeth will thank you.

Oil pulling can be very beneficial. But it must be stressed. Oil pulling does not replace proper oral hygiene. By adding oil pulling to your current oral care routine, you can take your oral health to that next level.



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