Oil Pulling: Ayurveda’s Answer for Oral Health 

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If you search for #oilpulling on TikTok, you’ll find tens of thousands of results. Hundreds of new videos are posted every day, and each one has thousands of views. So while this social media trend is taking off, it is not a new practice in Ayurveda. 

The benefits of oil pulling were first mentioned in Ayurvedic texts over 5,000 years ago. It’s a daily regimen that’s recommended for maintaining oral health, especially when paired with other Ayurvedic routines. 

Where does oil pulling fit in my routine?

In practice, oil pulling is done immediately after tongue scraping. Like tongue scraping, it is recommended to do on an empty stomach. This makes mornings the best time to add the practice to your oral hygiene routine

However, if you’re fighting off a cold, oil pulling can be done up to 2-3 times each day. This can help your body expel toxins and bacteria more quickly than it could otherwise.

How does oil pulling work?

Each recommended oil contains active ingredients that can improve your oral health. They are capable of absorbing oral mucosa which can lead to painful mouth sores if not treated. These oils can also pull toxins out of your teeth and gums to prevent future oral health issues. 

Oils also contain fats. While oil pulling, these fats emulsify, soften any present toxins, and prevent plaque build up. Because oils are so viscous, they can limit bacteria’s ability to stick to your teeth. In time, this can reduce your chances of developing new cavities!

What are the benefits of oil pulling?

Since the mouth is the entrance into our digestive system, maintaining its health is critically important. Without good oral hygiene, harmful bacteria can negatively impact our mouths as well as the rest of our systems. 

Oil pulling is one Ayurvedic routine that can help reduce these negative impacts. It can also have numerous positive effects on your overall health: 

    • Relieve tooth pain and tooth sensitivities 
    • Prevent tooth decay 
    • Improves dryness of mouth and lips 
    • Address teeth discoloration 
    • Improve overall taste perception 
    • Prevent bad breath 

What oil should I use?

There are a few different ways to choose the right oils for your needs. You can choose based on your Prakriti. Sesame oil is best suited for Vata Prakriti people and Kapha Prakriti people. Coconut oil and ghee are best for Pitta Prakriti people. 

You can also choose your oil based on your specific health needs. Sesame oil is recommended if you are dealing with hypersensitive teeth or receding gums. Research shows that sesame oil contains antibacterial properties that can help address many bacterial issues, too. If you are dealing with bad breath (halitosis) or gum disease (gingivitis), coconut oil and ghee may be a better choice. These oils contain saturated acids that can help improve these conditions. Below is TikTok’s viral coconut mint-pulling oil.

What steps are involved?

There are two oil pulling methods that are most widely used in Ayurveda

Gandusha: Fill your mouth with oil. Hold the oil in your mouth for 4-5 minutes. Be sure to keep still for the duration of this time, without swishing the oil around. After the time is up, spit the oil out and rinse your mouth with lukewarm water. 

Kavala Graha: Take one teaspoon of oil into your mouth. Gently swish it around for 1-2 minutes, making sure not to swallow any oil. After the time is up, spit the oil out and rinse your mouth with lukewarm water.

Is it right for me?

Oil pulling is a good practice for people of all ages and genders. Its preventive benefits are impactful in all seasons of life. 

However, it is not recommended for children below the age of five. There’s a chance that they will swallow oil instead of spitting it out. Swallowing oil is not recommended because it may contain toxins or harmful bacteria after it’s been in your mouth.

Can oil pulling replace mouthwash?

While this decision is a personal choice, research shows that oil pulling and mainstream mouthwashes have comparable effects. Rather than use chemicals, though, these oils are natural, plant-based, cost-effective oils that are easily accessible

So if you’re looking for a holistic answer to your oral health issues, oil pulling is worth a try.