What is it?
Oil pulling is a technique has been in use for over 3,000 years–that alone should give you an idea of it’s great benefits. Its origins are with Ayurvedic medicine, a system which has roots in the Indian subcontinent. The thought behind the method is that the oil extracts oil-soluble bacteria and pulls toxins from the mouth. The technique provides benefits not only for dental health, but overall health.
How does it work?
The name makes the technique sound a bit complex, but the steps are simple: put about a teaspoon or two of oil in your mouth (traditionally coconut, but other oils work), swish it around for about 20 minutes, and then spit it out (into the trash, so you don’t clog your sink).
The fat in the oil adheres itself to the lipids in the bacterial cells in your mouth. So, during the twenty minutes, the oil will collect more and more bacteria as it swishes between your teeth and gently under your gums. Be sure not to swallow the oil, as you will ingest all of the bacteria you just removed–plus, who wants to swallow a mouthful of oil and spit? Yuck. Twenty minutes is the suggested amount of time because it is just long enough to collect all the bacteria without it reabsorbing through the mucosal lining in your mouth.
What are the benefits?
Not many studies have been done on the benefits of oil pulling, but these are benefits that have been reported throughout the 3,000 year span of the practice
- Prevents cavities and gingivitis
- Promotes whiter teeth and better breath (including morning breath!)
- Lessens jaw pain for sufferers of TMJ
- Alleviates headaches, hangovers, and migraines
- Improves skin issues (particularly acne, psoriasis, and eczema)
- Clears sinuses
- Fosters a better night’s sleep
While oil pulling is certainly a great practice to work into your dental health routine, it is not meant to replace regular brushing and flossing! I suggest using it in place of mouthwash once per day, as it is a gentler and perhaps more effective replacement.
Have you ever tried oil pulling? Do you have any friends that are obsessed with it? I would love to hear some of your thoughts on this awesome technique!