Maybe you’ve heard of oil pulling, but you’re not sure what it means or how it’s done. Here are the basics of this simple practice based on an ancient technique to help you decide if it’s for you.
What Is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is the act of taking a small amount of oil and swishing it around one’s teeth and gums—not unlike an Ayurvedic mouthwash. The difference is that with oil pulling, the oil is not simply cleaning the mouth, it is a time-tested method for improving oral hygiene that is endorsed not only by Ayurvedic practitioners, but western doctors and dentists too, including WebMD.1
The numerous benefits of oil pulling extend beyond just the mouth. Here is a breakdown of the benefits of oil pulling.
- Teeth and gums. With all of the food and drinks we consume, it’s easy for particles to become trapped in the teeth and gums, leading to potential tooth pain and other unpleasant results. Oil pulling helps maintain a normal mouth pH and oral flora, keeping microbes, plaque, and decay from building within the mouth while strengthening the teeth and their enamel.
- Sinuses. Sinuses can easily become bogged down, especially for those who are sensitive to dust and pollen. Swishing oil promotes overall sinus health, allowing the sinuses to remain free and clear.
- Clear breathing. Breathing is a necessary part of life, and who doesn’t love a nice deep breath when stress starts to build up? The regular practice of oil pulling has been shown to not just freshen the breath, but to also reduce dryness and wheezing, making breathing even easier.
- Joints. Practicing oil pulling on a regular basis can help with joint comfort and flexibility. Dentists talk about how the health of the mouth is indicative of the whole body’s well-being. Oil pulling helps bring moisture to the teeth, which in turn bring moisture to the rest of the body through the exoskeletal system.
- Jaw muscles. Oil pulling helps provide a low-key but efficient workout for the neck, jaw, and mandibles, keeping those areas more flexible. Additionally, the soothing presence of oil that is absorbed through the inside of the mouth helps relax the jaw and neck and prevents dryness.
- Detoxification. Pulling oil supports the body’s natural ability to remove toxins.
- Skin. The presence of oil helps keep the skin hydrated and promotes an environment for skin to thrive.
- Routine. Cleansing and refreshing for the breath, the practice of oil pulling is a wonderful addition to your daily routine! The ritualistic aspect of it is not only beneficial for oral hygiene but also for adding a sense of groundedness and balance to your daily life.
How to Do Oil Pulling
In the morning on an empty stomach, start by putting 1 tablespoon of oil in your mouth. Ayurveda traditionally recommends sesame oil to support healthy teeth and bones. Initially the oil may not have a pleasant taste, but you will get used to this. Swish the oil in the mouth, moving it around both sides; also move the oil in front of, behind, and through the teeth. Continue the process for 15–20 minutes, until the oil has become thin and whitish in color. Then spit it out in the trash or toilet, rather than down the drain, to avoid clogging, and rinse the mouth with warm water, brushing if desired. Do not swallow the oil.
If these benefits sound like they are for you, give oil pulling a try!
Oil for Oil Pulling
Banyan has recently developed a third alternative, Daily Swish, which combines sesame and coconut oils with the health benefits of amalaki, bibhitaki, haritaki, (the three herbs that comprise triphala), guduchi, and fennel. These herbs are cooked gently into the oil according to Ayurvedic protocols, then flavored with organic peppermint and spearmint essential oils for added freshness.
With all of its benefits for the teeth, gums, and beyond, it’s no wonder that oil pulling has been practiced for thousands of years! For more information on measures you can take to practice Ayurvedic oral and dental care, be sure to read our Ayurvedic Guide to Oral Health.