Over the last few months, I've been hearing more and more about oil pulling. And if you just said to yourself, “what the blazes is oil pulling?” then you're not alone. I thought the same thing! Here's a quick rundown.
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic holistic dental care method that involves nothing more than swishing cold-pressed oil in your mouth for a certain amount of time. Sounds simple, right? It also seems a bit, well, strange. Maybe even a little gross. I get it. I thought the same thing.
But I'm always open to trying new home remedies, so I've been giving it a try for the past few weeks. Here's what I've learned!
The idea behind oil pulling, as well as the name itself, is that swishing with the oil helps "pull" toxins from your system as you pull the oil through your teeth and gums. The oils typically used are cold-pressed coconut, olive, or sesame oil [source].
That part seems to be a matter of personal preference. I've been using coconut oil since I already use it for everything, and my cupboard is already well stocked. It also has known antimicrobial and antifungal properties [source]. Plus, I'm a bit of a coconut fiend and love the way it tastes.
My oil pulling regimen
- Place 1–3 teaspoons of oil in your mouth.
- Swish and pull the oil around the inside of your cheeks and in between your teeth.
- Continue for 5–20 minutes.
I've had issues with my sensitive teeth, gums, and jaw since having children, so I knew I was a good candidate for trying this out. And the first time I tried, it felt strange, I'll admit. Plus, that 20 minutes felt like an eternity! It was also difficult to keep myself from swallowing a little.
But swallowing the oil is a big no-no because it will be full of toxins, bacteria, and germs [source]. It gets easier, though, once you try it a few times. Here's what I found to be helpful as I do this daily.
10 Tips for Making Oil Pulling Work
1. Start first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
2. If using coconut oil, melt it first, or let it melt in your mouth. I sort of "chew" it until it melts.
3. Use less oil if it feels like it's too much.
4. Keep the oil in the front of your mouth—don't gargle with it. You will have a mouthful of liquid by the end from the oil and the extra saliva.
5. If your mouth and jaw get tired, take a break briefly and let it sit without swishing in the front of your mouth.
6. Try doing a small task that takes between 5–20 minutes, like folding a load of laundry, taking a shower, checking emails, packing your kids' lunches, or vacuuming the living room, that will keep your mind occupied as you wait.
7. Be sure to do it long enough so that the oil and the enzymes in your saliva interact.
8. Spit the oil into the garbage can, not in the sink, to prevent it from clogging pipes.
9. Swish really well with salt water afterward.
10. Brush your teeth and floss as usual. (I use a homemade toothpaste.)
Benefits I've noticed
My gums feel healthier, and they don't get sore anymore.
My teeth feel stronger. I noticed after just the first few days—really!
Much better breath.
My tongue feels cleaner.
My lips are super soft!
My jaw pain has lessened a lot. (I'm pretty sure I have TMJ.) The first few days, my mouth and jaw felt super fatigued afterward, but now my entire face feels stronger. This may be more from the extra "exercise" than the oil itself. :)
In addition to the benefits I've already seen, oil pulling has tons of other reported benefits.
More reported oil pulling benefits
—reduced headaches, insomnia, PMS, sinus congestion, asthma [source]
—reduced dental plaque and gingivitis, overall increased oral health [source]
—decreased inflammation in the body, including reduction of arthritis symptoms
—skin problems (eczema, acne, rashes) reduced
Bottom line for me
I love the benefits I've seen so far and plan to continue. What do you think? Is it too weird? Or are you willing to give it a try? For those of you who have tried it, what benefits have you noticed?
How to Make Turmeric Coconut Oil Pulling Drops
These pre-made oil pulling drops make the whole process easier. And they’re packed with natural ingredients like coconut oil, turmeric and baking soda to gently whiten teeth and get rid of bad bacteria.
Pop one or two in your mouth and chew a bit while they melt. Then gently swish the coconut oil around for a few minutes, letting it get in-between your teeth, around the gums and toward the back of the mouth. When you’re done, spit it out in the trash, taking all the toxins and bacteria with it.
For fun, add a little baking soda and citric acid to the mix. It gives them a subtle effervescence that makes your teeth feel extra clean. But if you’re not a big fan of the taste of baking soda or the tingle that comes with citric acid, feel free to adjust the ratio or leave it out altogether. You can even add some extra stevia and peppermint oil to help mask the taste a bit.
Here’s how to make them.
- Line a small container (I used a plastic food container) with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl combine all the ingredients and whisk together. (Note that you may experience a little fizzing if any of your ingredients or utensils had water on them. This is okay.)
- Pour the coconut oil mixture into the container and freeze for 15 minutes or until solid.
- Remove the coconut oil from the container and use a serrated knife to gently slice them into 1 inch squares. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use (up to one month).
- To use, pop one or two drops into your mouth and chew them a little as they melt. Swish the melted coconut oil around your mouth for a few minutes, then spit in the trash.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified physician who has been practicing for more than 20 years. Learn more about Hello Glow's medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.781