By Danielle, contributing writer
Before dipping into why you should try oil pulling, let’s be sure we all know what it is. Oil pulling is like a gentle cleansing of the teeth with oil, usually coconut oil. The oil is swished around in the mouth, and picks up plaque, residue, harmful bacteria, and any other unwanteds. It is then spit out.
Now before you think this is some crazy new fad, oil pulling has actually been around since the dawn of ancient Chinese medicine. We find oil pulling an essential part of Ayurvedic living. Ayurvedic medicine and the Chinese tooth chart demonstrate that every essential organ of the body is correlated to a part of the mouth, and keeping your organs healthy starts with good oral hygiene.
Like all western medicine we have pushed oral health into its own category, assuming that some cavities, fillings, or inflamed gums do not have an impact on our health in general. But the body is one connected unit, and mainstream physicians now realize how true that is. But, they still don’t know how to go about creating a healthy mouth.
Does oil pulling work?
Here are some of the time-tested perks of oil pulling:
- Limit bacterial growth.
- Removes plaque.
- Helps alleviate gingivitis.
- Repair bleeding gums.
- Reduces Streptococcus bacteria in the mouth.
- Heal and prevent inflammation.
- Clears away other residue on the teeth, allowing the mouth’s natural defenses to work.
- Stop bad breath.
- Clear the skin.
- Gently whitens teeth.
Beyond the mouth, we know that teeth health, specifically plaque, has a big effect on cardiovascular health. Regular oil pulling is used in Ayurvedic medicine to aid with heart disease.
How Do You Do Oil Pulling
Begin by preparing your coconut or other oil. Many do this during their morning shower or routine, as you want to swish for 20 minutes, ideally. If you cannot swish that long the first time, that’s okay. You have to start somewhere. You can add essential oils to help with the taste and freshen the mouth, just be sure that they are edible and safe.
Place 1-2 teaspoons (again, what you can handle and then work up to more) of oil in your mouth. Swish around vigorously for as long as you can, ultimately reaching 20 minutes per day. The oil will turn thicker and a soupy, white color — that’s normal. Be sure not to swallow any oil, as your oil is full of bacteria and plaque.
When done, be sure to spit out the oil in a garbage can. You don’t want the bacteria and yuckies you just removed from your mouth going into your stomach.
After you’re done, rinse your mouth with water or a saltwater mix. Then, brush your teeth as you normally would (see below for toothpaste suggestions).
What type of Oil Should You Use?
You want to find a high quality organic, cold-pressed and unrefined coconut oil. You can use other oils if you can’t stand the taste of coconut — such as sesame or olive — but be sure to also find high quality oils of those, too. Of course, if you are allergic to coconut, use another oil.
We wouldn’t be doing natural oral health a service without touching on the need for natural toothpaste (fluoride free), ideally with a mineral substance like bentonite clay to remineralize the teeth. Be sure to do away with harsh chemical mouthwashes that may also include fluoride. Finding a holistic dentist is also a great idea to avoid dental procedures that may cause harm in the long run — like amalgam fillings, root canals, and crowns.
My Oil Pulling Testimony
So I may be a super crunchy mama, but oil pulling was hard to start for me. Somewhere between the gag relfex and not liking the taste of coconut, I struggled. I eventually just started using olive oil – just a 1/4 teaspoon and added some peppermint essential oil. I still have not been able to swish for twenty minutes, nor do I get around to it everyday, but I can tell it helps immensely with the health of my teeth and gums (especially during pregnancy, when your teeth and gums can suffer). Go slow, and start at whatever amount and time you can, and give it a try!