Originally published on Kate’s blog
What is oil pulling?
Oil pulling is a simple Ayurvedic treatment to improve oral health that is literally what it sounds like – pulling (or pushing or swishing!) oil around in your mouth. The main benefit of oil pulling is that it reduces harmful bacteria in your mouth, which prevents cavities and gingivitis. There are a few small studies that demonstrate this effect:
- Oil pulling is as effective as chlorhexidine in reducing halitosis (bad breath) and organisms that can cause it
- Oil pulling reduces plaque index, gingival scores, and total bacterial count in adolescents with gingivitis
- Oil pulling reduces Streptococcus mutans count after 1-2 weeks
What type of oil is best?
Oil pulling has traditionally been done with sesame oil, but in recent years coconut oil has also been used.
According to Michelle Hurlbutt, an associate professor of dental hygiene, in a recent article in the Huffington Post entitled ”Oil pulling might be the next big thing — or not”, sesame oil is superior. In a small study of 45 participants, she found that participants using sesame oil “experienced a five-fold decrease in the bacteria as compared to the water group, while the coconut oil group experienced a two-fold decrease.”
Apparently it is important to keep up the habit to reap the benefits, because she also found that “after the daily oil pulling stopped, levels of the bad bacteria began to creep up again.”
Oil pulling how-to:
All you need is 1-2 teaspoons organic sesame oil, your mouth, and a timer.
- Floss your teeth to remove any food debris (otherwise these pieces will feel gross in your mouth as you swish!).
- Place the sesame oil in your mouth.
- Set a timer for an amount of time you feel in manageable (somewhere between 9-20 minutes).
- Swish oil around your mouth, moving it from cheek to cheek and pushing and pulling it between your teeth.
- Spit oil and saliva out into the sink or garbage.
- Brush your teeth as usual.
- Repeat daily.