Updated: Apr 14
Starting off your morning by placing a teaspoon full of coconut oil in your mouth may not sound exactly appealing but this ritual, a part of Ayurveda’s prescribed daily routine, has proven to be a natural way to boost oral health.
With its gaining popularity, one may think that oil pulling is a new concept. However, this ancient Indian practice, known as Gandusha, is mentioned in the classical Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita. While many would argue that there is a lack of extensive research on oil-pulling, there is plenty of anecdotal support for this 3,000-year-old Ayurvedic practice.
So what exactly is Oil Pulling? Oil pulling is an effective practice known maintaining oral health and for the prevention of systemic diseases associated with oral pathogens. Ayurveda, as well as Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture believe that the mouth and especially the tongue are a reflection of the health of the digestive system; therefore, cleansing the mouth benefits the entire body.
The exciting aspect of oil pulling is its simplicity, affordability and safety. All you need to do is swish a teaspoon or two of edible oil (preferably coconut or sesame oil) in the mouth. Simple!
This process is extremely effective in that it pulls out bacteria that has accumulated in the mouth – on the tongue, between the teeth, in the gums. Often it is difficult to reach these areas even when flossing or brushing well.
Benefits of oil-pulling Prevents cavities Strengthens gums and jaws Prevents oral malodor Whitens teeth Prevents plaque build-up Prevents and heals gingivitis Soothes throat dryness Soothes cracked lips Stimulates the sense of taste Decreases tension in the jaw and neck Alleviates cold sores and canker sores (*with coconut oil)
How to oil-pull
This practice should be done first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything. The reason behind this is to prevent one from ingesting any bacteria that may have accumulated in the oral cavity.
Take 1–2 teaspoons of the oil into the mouth and swish it around your mouth for 10-15 minutes. (You will notice that, as you do this, the oil becomes thinner).
Do not gargle with this oil as you may swallow the oil back into your body.
Make sure that the oil goes back and forth between all your teeth to ensure that all bacteria that may have lodged in between your teeth or in the gums is pulled out.
Once you are done, spit the oil out into a napkin and throw it in the bin. (Do not spit the oil out in the sink, toilet or shower as doing this can clog the drains).
Rinse your mouth well with warm water in order to remove any residual oil and spit out once again.
Brush your teeth ideally with an Ayurvedic toothpaste such as Auromere, Dabur Red or Meswak.
Picking your oil!
Coconut oil is a great option due to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It is also great if you are prone to cold sores or canker sores as it has a cooling effect.
Sesame oil is also used traditionally. Anecdotal testimonies provide strong support that using sesame oil strengthened teeth due to its high level of calcium.