You may have heard of oil pulling, as it has had quite a comeback over the last few years. It originated in India as part of Ayurveda therapy, and was used to treat many kinds of diseases such as migraines, asthma, and diabetes. While I myself and science are not so sure if these claims actually have any merit, there are certain health benefits to oil pulling that I would like to present.
There are fat soluble toxins and bacteria that build up in our mouth and body. Think of your oily eye make up: you need something oily to take this off. Same goes for all the fat soluble toxins and bacteria. Drinking plenty of water won’t wash them away, you need something oily. This makes complete sense. Hence, introduce the oil pulling. The oil in your mouth will swoosh up the toxins and bacteria, and then you spit the oil out once you are done, getting rid of all the intruders. Other pleasant side effects are less plaque build up, whiter teeth, stronger gums, and fresh breath.
I started oil pulling a few years ago as a remedy for lots of plaque build up in the big gaps of my teeth. No matter how healthy my diet was and how much I brushed and flossed, the plaque build up was always quite severe and annoying. Dentists couldn’t really recommend anything other than flossing, which I was already doing twice a day. I came across oil pulling, and it sounded like a yucky, oily mess to me. Why would you want to have oil sitting in your mouth for up to 20 minutes? Who has the time to do this? And how do you not want to throw up?
After a lot of back and forth, I finally gave it a try. Non of the oils that are usually recommended (sesame or sunflower oil) sounded appealing to me. I decided to go with coconut oil - since you know how much I love coconut oil! I swished it for 2 minutes and was done! The texture in the mouth seemed all wrong, I had no patience, and washing the mouth with lots of water afterwards did nothing to get rid of the oily film.
It then took me another few months, to give oil pulling a second try. By this time I had done more research on how to do oil pulling properly and there were three vital differences this time:
I read an article once, where the author suggested to do oil pulling during your morning routine. This can be tidying up the house, preparing breakfast, or blow drying your hair. First step to success for me! I wasn’t bored and time flew by, so that 20 minutes felt like nothing. Now, oil pulling is part of my daily routine when I am in the kitchen preparing food for the rest of the day.
To really get into the gaps you have to properly swish and pull the oil around in your mouth. Just letting it sit there - although some people suggest this - doesn’t really do anything for me. When I pull the oil through my teeth properly, the results are amazing! After doing this very consistently, all my plaque build up goes away and my dentist is seriously impressed every time I go for teeth cleaning.
After the oil pulling is done, brush your teeth with baking soda, then rinse with apple cider vinegar. These two steps made the most crucial difference to me enjoying oil pulling. Baking soda is naturally in tooth pastes, and is responsible for taking the oily film off the teeth. The apple cider vinegar then sizzles the baking soda away, washing out all the leftover plaque. I read it as a Facebook comment once, and it’s seriously genius!
Oil pulling is definitely not a healthy habit for beginners in the wellness scene. If you are just starting out with taking care of yourself, there are probably many other things you can be spending your time on like food prep, exercising or enjoying quality time with loved ones. If, however, you have already added several healthy habits to your daily routine and are looking for something new to elevate your wellness to the next level, do give oil pulling a try! It’s not something you have to commit yourself to doing every day. Lots of my clients do it just 2 times per week and still like the results they see. Your teeth just feel so clean and shiny afterwards that only tooth brushing will never achieve this. You will become addicted! :-)
How to pull oil:
1. Choose your oil:
Traditionally, cold pressed sesame or sunflower oil were used. I personally prefer the taste of coconut oil, and some people use extra virgin olive oil.
2. Prepare your baking soda and apple cider vinegar:
You need 1 Tbsp of each, that will be plenty. Put them in small cups and have them ready by the sink for when you are done.
3. Start pulling:
Swish the oil around in your mouth, pulling it through your teeth and getting it into all corners of your mouth. You can do this anywhere from 5 - 20 minutes. The oil may change color and become slightly thinner and more watery while you do this.
4. Spit it out:
Once you have decided you have had enough, spit out the oil into the sink.
5. Brush with baking soda:
Use your tooth brush, dip it into the baking soda, and brush this all over your teeth.
6. Rinse with apple cider vinegar:
Take a tiny sip of the apple cider vinegar and wash your mouth with it. You will feel the baking soda sizzle. Do this a few times until all apple cider vinegar is gone. Then rinse one more time with water.
Some people do not enjoy the aftertaste of apple cider vinegar, so if you need to you can brush your teeth again with toothpaste afterwards.
Oil pulling is not a substitute to brushing your teeth and flossing, but an addition to your daily teeth hygiene routine.
Oil pulling is best done in the morning on an empty stomach, so bacteria and toxins have had time to build up overnight.
You don’t have to do it every day to see results. You can start with a few times a week and see how you enjoy it.
There are days I don’t have much time, so 5 minutes will just have to do!
Whatever you do, don’t swallow the oil! You don’t want the toxins and bacteria to go back into your body.
To sparkling clean teeth!