Oil Pulling for a Healthier Mouth
My morning routine (most mornings) consists of waking up at 6am, putting a couple teaspoons of oil in my mouth, and swishing it around for 15 minutes while I check my email. Followed up with a salt water gargle and brushing my teeth with homemade tooth powder, and then drinking a litre of water (sometimes with sea salt and lemon added). Yes I know, this sounds strange. Why on earth would I swish oil in my mouth for 15 minutes??
Oil pulling is actually an ancient Ayurvedic practice that is thought to pull toxins out of the body, especially in the mouth and throat. It benefits the gums, teeth and enamel, helps to break down plaque, and is thought to help with TMJ issues and sensitive teeth. It also has teeth-whitening benefits, which is enough for most people to try it at least once Some even claim it helps get rid of hangovers.
There are other supposed benefits including arthritis relief, skin improvement, hormone rebalancing and systemic infections, to name a few, but from my own personal experience, I can tell you that my teeth never feel cleaner than they do just after an oil pull, and I have also noticed that they aren’t as sensitive.
So which oil do you use? My favourite is coconut oil, as it is antibacterial and antimicrobial. I also like the taste of it, and it is a great oil for whitening the teeth. Sesame oil is traditionally used in India. The most important thing to remember when choosing an oil is to find one that is high quality. The better the oil, the more effective the oil pull will be. Look for organic, cold pressed, virgin oils.
- As soon as you wake up in the morning, before drinking any water or brushing your teeth, put about 2 teaspoons of the oil of your choice in your mouth. *Note – if you choose to go with coconut oil, and if the oil is hard, some people find the texture quite off-putting to melt in the mouth – try warming it up slightly until it’s just melted.
- Gently swish the oil around your mouth, ensuring it moves through and around all your teeth and gums evenly. Try to maintain a relaxed pace, otherwise your jaw and face might get tired and sore. Time yourself and try for 10 minutes the first day, and work up to a maximum of 20 minutes.
- Once the time is up, spit the oil into the garbage (not down the sink, it could clog the drains).
- Mix 1/4 tsp of sea salt in about a half a cup of warm water. Once the salt is dissolved, rinse your mouth with it (like you would with a mouthwash).
- Brush and floss as normal.
- Drink water! This will help flush out any toxins that are released.
You will notice cleaner feeling teeth right away, but the other benefits will take a while to appear. Stick with it for at least two weeks if you want to see results such as whiter and less sensitive teeth.
Also worth mentioning, some people find they have a slight reaction to the detoxifying effect of the oil pull. Headaches, stomach aches and a general unwell feeling are not uncommon, but should go away within the first couple of days. This is also a good reason to start slow, with just 10 minutes the first day.