We all want whiter teeth and prettier smiles, and in this modern age, numerous products promise them to us. But not all approaches are created equal. Whitening strips cause sensitivity and eat away enamel, while over-brushing can cause abrasion and pain. The solution? An old folk remedy that can transform both the color of your teeth as well as your overall oral health: oil pulling.
The Benefits of Oil Pulling
Oil pulling involves swishing oil in your mouth for a sustained amount of time, giving it a chance to cut through plaque and buildup while leaving your tooth enamel intact. Oil pulling can help whiten teeth, remove harmful bacteria, lessen tooth sensitivity, improve bad breath, and condition your gums – all while detoxifying your mouth and, according to some, your system overall.
Proponents of oil pulling also tout its benefits for asthma, headaches, hormonal imbalances, arthritis, skin problems and infections. And since heart disease has been linked to poor oral health, oil pulling may have the potential to improve heart health as well. At the very least, oil pulling can help improve oral health with minimal effort and cost.
How to Start an Oil Pulling Routine
Oil pulling involves no specialized equipment or ingredients, and the process is quite simple.
- Begin by placing a teaspoon or two of vegetable-based oil in your mouth. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so if you choose to use it, give it a minute to warm up and liquefy before you begin to “pull.”
- Swish the oil in your mouth for 20 minutes. Although you will derive some benefits from oil pulling, going the full 20 minutes will help you receive maximum detoxification benefits. It is generally recommended not to go past 20 minutes as your body can begin to reabsorb the toxins and bacteria you’re trying to get rid of. When the oil turns milky white, you’ll know it’s time to quit.
- Spit the oil in the trash can. Do not spit the oil into the sink, as it can clog the drain, and definitely do not swallow it! At this point the oil has absorbed tons of bacteria and toxins – swallowing the oil will send all those toxins straight back into your body.
- Rinse with warm water and brush your teeth.
Thanks to its mild taste and natural antibacterial and anti-viral properties, coconut oil is the oil of choice for most who practice oil pulling. Sesame oil is a close second. Whichever oil you choose, we recommend using an organic variety, though it’s a bit more expensive. Oil pulling can be a helpful detoxification practice, so using an oil that is potentially laden with pesticides and other harmful substances works against the goal of toxin removal.
When first starting an oil pulling routine, some people find it difficult to swish the oil for a full 20 minutes. If you find oil pulling tiring at first, start with a shorter amount of time or a smaller amount of oil, and work your way up. Stick with it, and you’ll soon begin to notice an improvement in your oral and overall health.