Should You Try Oil Pulling?

Ayurveda is an ancient medicinal practice with roots in India that’s been making waves in the West in recent years. One particular Ayurvedic practice that’s cropped up in health-focused communities is the age-old practice of oil pulling, which involves swishing edible oil around your mouth (and then spitting it out) to rid your teeth of plaque and bacteria. While the science surrounding its effectiveness is still new, modern research suggests that it can effectively maintain–and even improve–dental hygiene between dentist visits.

What Are the Benefits?

The benefits of oil pulling on one’s dental health are plentiful, according to Ayurvedic practitioners. Practitioners have also linked oil pulling to overall body health, but this particular claim has not been backed by science in any way–which is why I’ll specifically focus on oil pullings in regard to dental health in this article.

As oil pulling dates back to an era before the advent of toothbrushes and toothpaste, it has been shown over millennia to remove plaque and boost tooth, gum, and tongue health. A 2017 study says as much. Other suggested dental benefits of oil pulling include:

  • Kills harmful bacteria in your mouth
  • Reduces plaque
  • May help prevent tooth decay
  • Improves bad breath
  • May improve gum health and reduce gum inflammation

In terms of side effects, even skeptical researchers have concluded that oil pulling has little to no negative effects on one’s health. Food allergens in the oil used may cause issues for some, so make sure you’re aware of any allergies before selecting your oil.

How Do I Oil Pull?

First, choosing a high-quality edible oil is key–sunflower oil, coconut oil, and sesame oil are all commonly used in oil pulling.

Start by dropping a tablespoon of oil into your mouth. Then, swish it around.

There’s no “right” way to oil pull, but you should focus on moving the oil around as much as possible. Swish it from side to side and force it through your teeth. 

The oil should feel “heavier” as you swish, as it’s collecting liquids and other toxins from your mouth; this prompts some people to spit the oil out sooner, but you should keep the oil in your mouth for at least three minutes. 

When finished, spit the oil into the trash and brush your teeth, and voila–you have successfully oil-pulled!

To maintain your dental health, practitioners recommend oil pulling a few times a week.


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