Oil pulling: the benefits and how to do it at home

Are you looking for ways to improve your oral health? Cue Oil Pulling, the age-old technique that is making a comeback. We spoke to the experts to give you the full guide on the method, its benefits, and how to do it safely at home.

Oil pulling has been around for thousands of years. The alternative practice involves using vegetable oil like mouthwash to remove harmful bacteria and reduce inflammation in the mouth. You can already take good care of your teeth with the best electric toothbrush, floss and coffee once a day if you are undergoing teeth whitening. But oil pulling can take your dental hygiene to a whole new level.

“Oil pulling has its origins in India around 3000 years ago,” says Dr. Rashmi Byakodi, BDS and Editor of Best for Nutrition. People turned to oil pulling to treat oral problems and to strengthen gums, teeth, and jaws, says Dr. Byakodi. “Sesame oil is the most traditional and best studied. But good results have also been achieved with coconut oil, ”says Dr. Paul Springs, Restorative Dentist at Timeless Dentistry. You can use virtually any type of vegetable oil, including olive oil, sunflower oil, and more. It just depends on which one tastes best.

Here we explore the benefits of this age-old practice, how to use it at home, and how to make it a part of your everyday life like your skin care routine.

The benefits of oil pulling

“In oil pulling, you use an oil like a mouthwash that removes the harmful bacteria from your mouth. The oil naturally has the ability to reduce inflammation and bacteria, which is good for oral health, ”says Dr. Byakodi.

Dr. Byakodi explains the benefits of oil pulling for oral health:

  1. “It helps kill harmful bacteria– A 2016 study by the Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics Army College of Dental Sciences found that it significantly reduced the number of bacteria found in saliva. “
  2. “It reduces bad breath—According to a 2011 study by the Children’s Dentistry Department of Meenakshi Ammal Dental College, oil pulling was found to be as effective as chlorhexidine as an effective means of treating bad breath. “
  3. It increases the shine of the teeth– Oil pulling whitens your teeth and removes plaque. “

The benefits of oil pulling can, according to Dr. Byakodi also go beyond oral health. “Some studies, like that of the Dar Al Uloom University’s Department of Community & Preventive Dentistry, have shown that oil pulling also reduces the risk of systemic disease,” she says. “Holistic Ayurvedic medicine views oil pulling as a cure for many health problems, including diabetes, asthma and migraines.”

Bowl of coconut oil on a pink and blue background

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to draw oil – a step-by-step guide

Oil pulling is a simple process that is not unlike using mouthwash.

That’s how it’s done:

1. Put a tablespoon of cooking oil in your mouth

If you use coconut oil, you should melt it slightly beforehand, as it is solid at room temperature. Test it with your fingertip before putting it in your mouth to make sure it’s not too hot. For any other oil, simply put it in your mouth at room temperature.

2. Swirl the oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes

It sounds like a long time, but this is how you get the benefits you want. It can take some trial and error to find an oil that you like so much that it will stay in your mouth for that long. To make time go by, turn on the TV or read one of the best books of 2021 while you whiz.

3. Spit the oil in the trash

Be sure to spit out the oil when you finish rinsing – don’t swallow it. Ingesting a tablespoon of oil each night is not ideal for your health, especially after the oil extracts bacteria from your teeth. Spit it in the trash, not your sink, as oil can clog the pipes.

four toothbrushes on a green and pink background

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Brushing your teeth after oil pulling?

Because oil pulling is so simple, you don’t need to do a lot of preparation for aftercare.

There is some debate about whether or not you should brush your teeth right after oil pulling. Some people prefer to do this because it eliminates the oily taste in their mouth. However, some experts argue that you shouldn’t brush your teeth right after oil pulling as it upsets the balance of the oral microbiome and washes away good bacteria, defeating the purpose.

Whichever you choose, Dr. Springs stressed, “The most important thing to remember when choosing oil pulling is that it is purely an addition to your brushing and flossing routine. It can’t replace brushing or flossing. ”Whether you brush your teeth before or after oil pulling, or floss, make sure you do these important oral care steps every day.

Woman with yellow smile on blue background

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Is oil pulling worth it?

Swirling oil in your mouth for 20 minutes each evening might not sound appealing to you, so is it really worth the effort?

The truth is, it depends who you ask. Some experts swear by oil pulling and its benefits. But according to Dr. Springs: “Patients who pull oil usually don’t stick with it because the benefits aren’t very noticeable and there are many things you can do in 20 minutes a day that are much more beneficial to your health.” You can use those 20 minutes to do some light jogging in the neighborhood, meditate, stretch, or do a variety of other healthy activities instead of oil pulling, for example.

Whether or not you choose to oil pull depends on your health goals. If you give it a try, follow our step-by-step guide for the best results and make it a part of your morning or bedtime so that you stick to it. Keep brushing your teeth, flossing, and seeing your dentist regularly.

woman & home thanks Dr. Paul Springs of Timeless Dentistry and Dr. Rashmi Byakodi from Best for Nutrition for their time and expertise.

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