Oral hygiene is usually associated with flossing, brushing and regular check-ups at the dentist but oil pulling can also be added to that list.
Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic practice that originated in India and is said to remove bacteria from your mouth and promote dental health. There isn’t a ton of research on oil pulling but it’s said to work by “pulling” bacteria out and naturally reducing inflammation within the mouth, according to Healthline.
Oil pulling is super easy to do but it does take a little while and should ideally be done on a daily basis. Simply pop a tablespoon of oil in your mouth and actively swish it around for roughly 15 to 20 minutes. Yes, you really need to do it for that long for it to work.
Once you’re finished, spit the oil into the bin. Avoid spitting it in the sink, as this can lead to a build-up of oil and possibly clog your pipes, which would mean expensive de-clogging services from a plumber.
Then, rinse your mouth thoroughly. It’s recommended to oil pull first thing in the morning on an empty stomach but simply slot it into your routine wherever you can find the time.
Sesame oil is traditionally used for oil pulling but you can do it with any oil you have at home, including olive, sunflower, coconut or palm.
These days, the most common oil used is extra-virgin coconut oil, which has a slightly nicer taste compared to sesame or olive. Coconut oil also contains high amounts of lauric acid, which has antimicrobial properties, according to Healthline.
One of the most touted benefits of oil pulling is its ability to kill bacteria in your mouth. A few preliminary studies on the bacteria-killing qualities of oil pulling have found that it achieves a similar effect as using mouthwash.
A study from 2016 asked 60 participants to rinse their mouth using either mouthwash, coconut oil and water for a period of two weeks. The researchers found that both mouthwash and coconut oil reduced the number of bacteria found in saliva.
Bacteria in your mouth is often responsible for bad breath and in some cases can lead to tooth decay and cavities, so killing this bacteria via oil pulling could prove to be a natural alternative to mouthwash.
Oil pulling can also help to reduce inflammation of the gums by decreasing harmful bacteria. Using an oil like coconut, which has anti-inflammatory properties, will also reduce inflammation often associated with gum disease, as reported by Healthline.
A 2015 study included 60 participants with gingivitis — a common form of gum disease. Researchers asked the participants to practice oil pulling with coconut oil for 30 days. After just seven days, the amount of plaque had reduced and the participants showed an improvement in gum health.
At the end of the day, oil pulling is a relatively inexpensive practice. As you only use a tablespoon of product per day, a large jar should last you a while. While it does take 20 minutes to do, you can multitask at the same time.
Oil pulling doesn’t replace brushing your teeth twice daily and the use of floss, but can be used alongside these for optimal dental health.