Oil pulling has increasingly become very popular! The practice of oil pulling (also called Gundusha) started in India thousands of years ago, with the practice originally emerging in the United States in the early 1990s. Even though it is a technique taken from the ancient tradition of Ayurvedic medicine (the traditional Hindu system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems) from 3,000 years ago, it’s recently become a huge trend and is even touted by practically every celebrity on Instagram.

What exactly is oil pulling? Oil pulling is the act of swishing oil (commonly Sesame, Sunflower or Coconut) in the mouth for up to 20 minutes to improve oral health. It has the added effect of whitening teeth naturally and evidence even shows that it may be beneficial for gum health and that certain oils may help fight harmful bacteria in the mouth. The basic idea is that oil is swished in the mouth for a short amount of time each day and that this practice will help improve oral health. Just as with Oil Cleansing for the skin, the principle of “like dissolves like” applies, as oil is able to cut through plaque and remove toxins without disturbing the teeth or gums.

Oil Pulling Directions
1) Put 1-2 teaspoons of oil of choice into the mouth – The oil traditionally used in oil pulling is organic sesame oil, and this is also the oil that has been the most studied for use in oil pulling. As of late, oil pulling with organic coconut oil has become increasingly popular.

2) Swish for around 20 minutes – It is believed that 20 minutes is long enough to break through plaque and bacteria but not long enough that the body starts re-absorbing the toxins and bacteria. The oil will get thicker and milky as it mixed with saliva during this time and it should be creamy-white when you finally spit it out. It will also double in volume during this time due to saliva. When you begin to oil pull, it will be difficult to complete 20 minutes of the process due to the volume the oil expands to. Do not be discouraged by this.

3) Spit oil into the trash can – Do not spit into the sink or toilet; the oil may continue to thicken and clog pipes. You also should not swallow it, as the oil will contain the bacteria and toxins you just spent 20 minutes swishing to remove!

4) Rinse well with warm water – Warm water will rid your mouth of any remaining oil.

Just like dirt on your tires, plaque needs to be mechanically removed by scraping it from tooth surfaces — this is done with floss and the hygienist’s tools. Swishing for 20 minutes with oil reduces plaque in the same way that swishing with water for 20 minutes reduces plaque — it dilutes the stickiness of plaque and its ability to stick to teeth. If done daily, oil pulling could remove some tooth staining and reduce plaque and bacteria, but not enough to prevent gum disease. Flossing, brushing, and tongue scraping should still be the main components of your routine!