Oil pulling sounds like a task for a diesel mechanic, not a way to clean your teeth. But nope, no car engines in sight. Just a lot of coconut oil! Bloggers to Good Morning America and everything in between have been tossing around this latest health buzzword like it’s candy at a parade. But should you join the pulling party? Here’s what you need to know before you make a pit stop in the oil aisle:
What exactly is this?
Although oil pulling has been a hot topic recently, it’s definitely not new. The practice is actually an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for oral health and detoxification. The belief is that swishing pure oils in your mouth for 15-20 minutes will pull out bacteria, fungus, and other harmful organisms from the mouth, teeth, and gums.
What are the benefits?
The main benefits touted from oil pulling include whiter and stronger teeth, stronger gums, cavity and gingivitis prevention, and better breath. So say goodbye to Crest Whitestrips? It’s worth a try. (Some larger health claims such as sinus congestion relief, cleared up psoriasis, headaches reducer, a hangover cure, and allergy help have been made but not sure of any conclusive evidence.)
How do I start?
1. Choose your oil.
You will need 1 tablespoon of an extra virgin cold press oil. The traditional oil of choice is sesame, but sunflower, coconut, and olive oil will do the job, too. Coconut oil’s antibacterial properties and (somewhat) good taste have made it the most popular.
2. Swish for 15 to 20 minutes.
Once you have the tablespoon of oil (the solid form will melt within five seconds in your mouth), push, swirl, and pull the oil all around your mouth and through your teeth for 15 to 20 minutes. Since the oil is supposed to be attracting toxic material, you don’t want it to touch your throat, so don’t gargle! Evidently, the timing is key, according to Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Oil Pulling Therapy. You need to do it long enough to break through plaque and bacteria but any longer won’t help. Fife says if you go over 20 minutes, your body could start re-absorbing the toxins and bacteria.
3. Spit and rinse.
Now that you made it the full time (go you!), spit the oil in the garbage NOT your sink! The oil could solidify and wreck havoc in your pipes. Then, rinse your mouth with warm water and brush your teeth. You’re done!
I tried it….
I knew I couldn’t handle 20 minutes of olive oil or sesame oil, so I went with coconut oil because I love the taste in my cooking. How bad could be it, right? The oil tasted fine to me but it was the length of time! Five minutes, maybe 10 was all I could tolerate. I do have to say that the second day of oil pulling felt easier, and the third, even more so, but I never felt completely comfortable with the constant swishing. Did I notice any changes? My mouth felt super fresh right after spitting, but apparently you need to do oil pull for most days during a two-week period to experience any of the proposed benefits. I don’t mind it for 5 minutes but don’t think I could stomach 20…I may just stick to getting my heart healthy oils in my meals.
So to oil pull or not to oil pull? That is for you to decide. It won’t hurt you and it may help you. It could give you whiter teeth and fresher breath…but don’t go canceling any dentist appointments!
Have you tried oil pulling and seen any health benefits? Share below!