The concept of oil pulling certainly sounds strange — swishing oil around in the mouth for 20 minutes each day to improve oral health? How does that work?
Oil pulling has its roots in Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic practice that developed thousands of years ago in India. While few scientific studies have been conducted on oil pulling, devotees tout its use in detoxifying and healing the mouth, sinuses and entire body.
Oil pulling involves rinsing your mouth with the oil, much like you would with a mouthwash. The oil is “worked” around your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for a period of 15 to 20 minutes. In 15 minutes, the oil will reportedly “pull out” bacteria, viruses, fungi and other debris from your mouth.
Proponents of oil pulling like Wellness Mama say it eliminates bacteria like candida and strep that often make themselves home in our mouths, whitens teeth, reduces plaque, and even cures bad breath. The idea of oil pulling is that it improves overall health by boosting oral health.
Sesame oil is traditionally used in oil pulling, but sunflower, peanut or coconut oil will also work. Coconut oil has become popular in oil pulling, as it has antibacterial properties and frankly tastes better than other oils.
Not convinced? Give it a shot and see what you think.
First thing in the morning, swish 1 tablespoon of oil around in your mouth. Sesame, sunflower, peanut or coconut oil will work. Gently move the oil around your mouth and through your teeth for a minimum of 15 minutes.
When you're done, spit the oil into a garbage can rather than a toilet or sink, as the oil can solidify and clog your drain. Do not swallow the oil.
Rinse your mouth out with warm water or a salt water solution, and then floss and brush your teeth thoroughly.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho