In Praise Of: Oil Pulling

Did you know that our oral health is a great indicator of our overall health? When there is disease, inflammation or imbalance in our mouth, chances are we have some other dysfunction going on throughout the rest of our body.

Oil pulling is an incredibly simple and affordable tool that can have a pretty powerful impact on our oral health (and therefore, the rest of our health). It is an old Ayurvedic technique that has been around for centuries, although it has only recently gained traction here in America.  If you haven’t heard of it before, it is quite literally the process of swishing (or pulling) oil through your teeth for up to 20 minutes. This traditional detoxifying and cleansing remedy is extremely helpful in removing bacteria and toxins from the teeth, gums and mouth. It is preventative as well as curative and can help in treating tooth decay, killing bad breath, healing bleeding gums, whitening teeth, and preventing cavities.

It sounds strange (and at first it is), but before you know it, it’s second nature! A high quality oil like coconut or sesame should be used (coconut is my go-to, especially because of it’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects.

Here are just some ways you can tell if you might benefit from this ancient tradition:

  • Your gums bleed when you brush or floss

  • Your teeth are discolored

  • You struggle with bad breath

  • You deal with skin breakouts

  • You get sick often

Here's what you do:

  1. Oil pull first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything. (Try it while showering or getting ready for the day!)

  2. Take a spoonful of coconut oil and gently swish it through your teeth for 10-20 minutes (you may need to “chew” it at first if it’s solid). You can work your way up - I know it takes some getting used to! If your jaw gets sore, you’re swishing too vigorously :)

  3. Spit out the oil in the trash can (it will clog the pipes if you spit it out in the sink or toilet!). It should be a milky white color by this point

  4. Rinse your mouth out with warm water and brush normally

  5. Repeat this daily (some people do it up to 3 times a day, before each meal!)

A couple things to note:

  • Do not swallow the oil. When you’re first getting the hang of it, some of it might go down your throat but don’t stress, just do your best. The oil is pulling out all of the bacteria and toxins in your mouth so swallowing it would be no bueno. And very counterproductive :)

  • I like to add a couple drops of peppermint essential oil to the spoonful of coconut oil (just make sure it’s a therapeutic-grade oil like doTERRA). This little addition makes it a bit more enjoyable and refreshing!

  • Another option is to sprinkle a bit of activated charcoal to the spoonful of coconut oil and peppermint oil for an even stronger detoxifying (and whitening) affect.