Oil pulling is an old Indian remedy stemming from Ayurvedic medicine that uses natural oils to clean and detoxify the gums and teeth. Dental health is very important to the overall health of our bodies as much of the bacteria and toxins that enter the body come in through the mouth. And lets be real, who doesn't want to have shiny white teeth!
Nowadays we see a lot of people and especially celebrities and people in the spotlight, with these big smiles full of shockingly white teeth. And the truth is most of them use chemical methods of whitening their teeth, from whitening strips, gels, toothpastes and bleaching, all these forms of enhancing our smiles have toxic effects on the planet and ourselves.
But having white teeth doesn't mean they're healthy! Oil pulling is a natural method that promotes overall dental health as well as naturally whitening the teeth, where's the chemicals in conventional products only deal with what's on the surface. And there's really nothing complicated about oil pulling at all - put simply the art of oil pulling is swishing oil in your mouth. I know it sounds kinda weird and maybe gross, but give it a chance.
The most popularly used oils are sesame, coconut and olive. You want to avoid any oils high in omega 6 or chemically created like vegetable oil, canola oil etc. Olive oil can be quite harsh on the teeth as it is quite astringent so I wouldn't recommend it. Coconut oil is probably the most commonly used (although traditionally organic sesame oil was used), and the oil that I personally use for oil pulling myself. You also want to make sure that the oil you use is of good quality (food grade) and ideally organic.
While there aren't any extensive studies on the benefits of oil pulling, all research points to overall dental health, detoxification of gums and teeth as well as natural whitening. No research shows any downsides to the practice of oil pulling, you just don't want to swallow the oil once you've finished as it will be full of the bacteria and toxins that were inside your mouth.
You can also use different oils or add other ingredients, such as essential oils or activated charcoal, to your oil pulling oil to further enhance the benefits. Coconut oil for example is excellent as it is a natural antioxidant, holds whitening properties and also removes the bacteria responsible for causing dental caries. Activated charcoal is also known for its whitening properties and things like cinnamon and cloves are antibacterial, so adding some essential oils to your oil pulling oil will not only enhance the benefits but also make it taste nice!
The duration of your oil pulling is also key, with studies showing 20 minutes being the ideal time. This gives enough time for the oil to break through plaque and bacteria but short enough to avoid the body re-absorbing the toxins. Don't worry if you can't do the full 20 minutes at first, I also started off with 5-10 minutes and worked my way up - it takes a surprising about of jaw strength to swish for 20 minutes!
How To Oil Pull
It's best to oil pull first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything. It can also be done before each meal for serious dental problems. Grab 1 tbsp of oil if you're using a liquid oil like sesame or olive, or 1 tsp if you're using a hard oil like coconut oil (you could melt it first if you want). You could also make your own oil pulling oil using one of the above oils as a base and adding whatever other enhancing and beneficial ingredients you want.
Swish the oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes. If you can't make it all the way, don't worry, just work your way up to the full duration.
The oil will become thick as it mixes with saliva and turn a milky white colour from the bacteria (I know, gross!). Once you've finished swishing spit the oil in the bin. You don't want to swallow it as then you'll just be ingesting all the toxins we want to get out! You also don't want to spit in the sink as the oil could harden and clog the drain.
Rinse your mouth a few times with warm salt water. This will just cut through grease and get rid of any lingering bacteria. You could also add a drop of essential oil or tee-tree for added benefit.
Brush your teeth like normal!
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