Do you know the most popular benefits of oil pulling?
From weight loss to boosting your mood to helping your body regulate your hormones, the natural benefits of oil pulling span far and wide when it comes to your health.
Many people usually try oil pulling for the first time because of the dental health benefits. Oil pulling may help whiten your smile, freshen your breath, and impress your dentist during your next checkup.
If you’ve never tried oil pulling before, today’s guide will show you exactly why you need to start -- and how to do so.
Let’s begin with the basics before we get to the science and a step-by-step walkthrough.
What is Oil Pulling Anyway?
Oil pulling, also known as gundusha or kavala, is an ancient Ayurvedic practice originating in India thousands of years ago.
Essentially, oil pulling is the act of using a specific oil to swish around your mouth and pull out toxins, bacteria, and microorganisms
In doing so, the oil squeezes in and out of tiny crevices in your mouth, attracting and pulling out leftover food particles and plaque surrounding your teeth and gums.
When you’re done swishing and spit out the oil, you also get rid of those food particles and toxins.
What are the Dental Health Benefits of Oil Pulling?
With an established oil pulling routine, you may notice:
Chronic bad breath (also known as halitosis) is usually the result of having too much harmful bacteria in your mouth.
And since certain oils behave like magnets for odor-causing bacteria and left-behind food particles, many people notice fresher breath after they start oil pulling.
In one study, participants with excess plaque and gingivitis were randomly assigned to either use mouthwash or oil pulling each morning before brushing their teeth. After 10 days, researchers saw less plaque and fewer total bacteria in both groups.
Better Oral Hygiene
Since the oils work between those hard-to-reach areas in your mouth, the habit can improve your overall oral hygiene.
Scientists from one study found that daily oil pulling “can significantly improve” both oral and general health, including reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Researchers from another study found oil pulling resulted in a “remarkable reduction” in the total amount of oral bacteria in participants.
If sensitive gums are an issue for you, oil pulling may be an ideal natural solution. When participants in one study were asked to swish sesame oil for 10 minutes a day for 10 days, researchers noticed less gingival bleeding in that group compared to the other participants.
Stains from coffee, soda, and plaque build-up can all cause your teeth to appear discolored or yellowed instead of white.
If you notice this, adding oil pulling to your daily routine may help.
Scientists are unclear on exactly how oil pulling helps whiten teeth; some believe the oil has the power to eat up those foods and beverages responsible for staining to keep the surface of your teeth free of buildup.
Others maintain that oil pulling doesn’t actually whiten your teeth but simply strengthens the pink color of your gums so your teeth appear whiter.
Now that you know how oil pulling may improve your oral health just as well as (if not more than) mouthwash, here’s how to start.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Oil Pulling the Right Way
It’s easy to start an oil pulling habit; just follow these five steps:
#1. Choose the best oil pulling oils. Since you’ll be swishing this oil in your mouth, always look for a high-quality carrier oil that’s safe to eat (although you won’t actually do so).
According to traditional Ayurvedic studies, the best option is a combination of the following four oils:
- Coconut oil
- Sesame oil
- Sunflower seed oil
- Peppermint essential oil
It’s believed that, when used together, these four oils create a synergetic blend of antiviral and antibiotic properties to keep your teeth clean, bright, and pearly white.
These specific oil-pulling oils can also balance your Ayurvedic doshas, allowing your body to absorb the necessary antioxidants and (MCT) fatty acids beneficial for your teeth and gums.
#2. Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of oil to your mouth and swish it around like mouthwash for 15–20 minutes. Vigorously swish around the oil to make sure it works its way through the tiny spaces and crevices in between your teeth and along your gums.
You may start to feel the oil getting heavier with your own saliva and the bacteria, plaque, and toxins from your mouth as you swish it around.
Don’t worry if you can’t swish for 20 minutes your first time.
Try to make it at least 10 minutes so the oil has time to work its magic and increase your swishing time each practice.
Don’t swish too long, however, or you may run the risk of the bacteria and toxins breaking down and being absorbed by your body before you can get rid of them.
Pro Tip: You may want to create a song to sing or hum in your head or use a special oil pulling playlist or stopwatch to help you time yourself.
#3. Spit the oil out -- Do NOT swallow! One of the most common mistakes people make when oil pulling is swallowing the mixture they swish with.
This is a huge no-no.
Why? This oil just pulled out all the toxins and bacteria from your mouth. The whole point is getting rid of them!
The last thing you want to do is swallow these toxins.
Instead, spit the mixture out in the trash.
Just like cooking oil, you don’t want to dump oil down your sink and potentially clog your drain and pipes.
#4. Rinse your mouth well with warm water so you don’t have any oily residue left behind from oil pulling.
#5. Brush your teeth as normal to not only remove the rest of the oil but also make sure those toxins are totally out of your mouth.
Frequently Asked Questions About Oil Pulling
Though oil pulling is a safe practice, here are a few FAQs and hesitations most new oil pullers have before they start.
When’s the best time to oil pull?
It’s best to perform your oil pulling practice in the morning before you have anything to eat or drink.
Simply oil pull, rinse, brush your teeth, and enjoy a fresh start to your day.
Feel free to start oil pulling after each meal just like you would brush your teeth or mouthwash as you become more practiced.
What’s the best oil to use for oil pulling?
The most effective oil pulling carrier oil is actually a combination of coconut, sesame, sunflower seed, and peppermint essential oil.
Stay away from oils high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and heavily processed oils, such as:
Can I oil pull with dental fillings and other dental work?
You may want to speak with your dentist before you start oil pulling if you have metal fillings, dental problems, braces, or crowns. While you should be given the green light, it’s always best to ask first.
Is oil pulling dangerous or harmful for your health?
Oil pulling is safe as long as you use high-quality food-grade oils to do so. You can cook and eat these healthy oils so they are safe to swish in your mouth.
Just don’t swallow all the bacteria and toxins you’ve collected, just as you wouldn’t swallow used mouthwash.
Can children oil pull?
As long as your child is old enough to swish the oil and not swallow the mixture, he or she may be able to safely practice oil pulling. You’ll want to speak with your child’s dentist to be sure.
Is it safe for pregnant or nursing women to oil pull?
Oral health is crucial for expectant mothers as the toxins trapped in their mouth have a chance to enter their bloodstream and affect their child.
Oil pulling is generally considered safe for pregnant women after the first trimester.
And nursing women should also feel comfortable oil pulling, but you may want to speak with your dentist or doctor for peace of mind first.
What if I don’t like the taste of oil pulling?
Thanks to its minty flavor, peppermint is the perfect essential oil to use for oil pulling. Adding a drop of high quality peppermint essential oil mimics the taste of toothpaste and traditional mouthwash to make oil pulling easier.
How To Start Oil Pulling Today
There are so many reasons you need oil pulling in your life, from weight loss to shinier hair and glowing skin.
But as you’ve seen today, there’s no better way to impress your dentist than with an oil pulling routine.
Your first step to oil pulling is researching a high quality oil pulling oil blend.
The best essential oils for oil pulling should be alcohol-free, and contain no artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors.
Once you have your oil pulling blend, practice every day until you develop a healthy oil pulling habit (and a killer smile) you can be proud of.