What is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling or oil swishing is a traditional Ayurvedic oral detoxification procedure where oil is “swished” (kavala graha) or “held” (snigda gandoosha) in the mouth. It involves swishing approximately 1 tablespoon of oil — typically coconut, sesame, or sunflower oil — in your mouth for about 15-20 minutes and then spitting it out. As per Ayurvedic literature, sesame oil is one among many medicinal fluids recommended for daily preventive use to reduce dryness (vata dosha) of the mouth and reduce inflammation and burning sensation in the mouth. In case of specific issues, Ayurvedic practitioners might also suggest other treatments such as coconut oil and sunflower oil or other herbalized oils after proper diagnosis of the specific ailment or dosha.
The process attracts and removes bacteria, toxins, and parasites that live in your mouth or lymph system. The prolonged and forceful mechanical action could play a part in dislodging bacteria and undigested particles from the deep crevices within the mouth. By increasing the secretion of saliva, oil pulling uses the salivary glands in the mouth as a detoxifying organ: the saliva can trap the toxin within the oil particles.
Oil pulling moisturizes gums, which can provide a measure of relief to those suffering from dry mouth. Dry mouth is known to increase bacteria growth. It also helps re-mineralize your teeth and strengthen your gums by thoroughly cleansing the area.
Benefits of Oil Pulling
To date, 0il pulling has received little study and there is limited evidence to support claims made by the technique’s advocates. However more researchers are catching on to how oil pulling can help benefit someone’s life. A lot of research on oil pulling has been done with sesame oil. Some sources claim that coconut oil pulling can help everything from acne to sore throats and even heart disease, though I’ve never seen any scientific documentation of these claims.
It is well known that good oral health practices can benefit the body in other ways, so it certainly may be beneficial as part of a good oral health routine. I certainly wouldn’t rely on oil pulling alone as a method to address any internal or serious medical problem, but I do find it helpful for keeping my mouth healthy and avoiding bad breath.
It has been about two years since I have been oil pulling now and I have seen some noticeable effects since. Having a history of gum issues for so many years I find oil pulling has helped to maintain the condition of my gums intact for quite some time. I don’t think it will reverse the situation but it maintains it and that is great!
Every morning I get up, wash my hands and face first, take 1 tbsp. of either coconut, sesame or sunflower oil-(I like to alternate but so far my favorite is coconut oil). During this time, my bed gets made, my cat gets fed and fresh water put in his bowl. I manage to fill those 20 minutes swishing oil in my mouth. After 20 minutes of oil swishing, I still brush my teeth as I normally would, brush my tongue and voila! I also brush and floss my teeth at night before bed. Oil pulling alone is not enough for oral hygiene.
Some tips when oil pulling:
- Make sure to oil pull first thing in the morning right after you get out of bed before you brush your teeth or drink anything.
- Gently swish 1 – 2 tablespoons of oil in your mouth and between your teeth for 10-20 minutes making sure that you don’t swallow any of the oil. (Do this gently so you don’t wear out your jaw and cheeks!)
- Spit out the oil in the trash (not the sink so it doesn’t clog up the plumbing). Rinse your mouth with warm water (use salt water for added antimicrobial properties).
- Finally, brush your teeth as you would normally. Oil pulling is not a replacement to brushing nor flossing your teeth.
Give it a try. Have fun with it and see if you notice any changes for the good. I felt it instantly and this is why I adopted this habit. I hope it works for you too!