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What is Oil Pulling and How to Do it

There is SO much buzz around oil pulling right now! Celebrities are tweeting about it and everyone has a friend of a friend who swears by it. But what exactly is it and is it worth all the hype?

Oil pulling comes from Ayurveda, which is a system of alternative medicine that originated in India thousands of years ago. Ayurvedic medicine contains many holistic and simple recommendations for balancing the body and promoting good health. One of these simple practices is oil pulling, which Ayurvedic texts claim can cure diseases ranging from allergies to migraines!

So what exactly is oil pulling?

Traditionally, oil pulling is done by gently swishing oil around the mouth first thing in the morning, kind of like mouthwash. This is said to stimulate hunger and prepare the digestive system for breakfast. It’s also said to bind toxins and bacteria and pull them out of the body improving oral and overall health.

Does it work?

Studies have found that oil pulling reduces the number of Streptococcus mutans and Candida albicans bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria have been linked to gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath. What’s great about this is that oil pulling naturally reduces these bacteria without some of the harsh additives of mouthwash. Most mouthwashes contain synthetic colouring agents and many use ethyl alcohol that can actually damage gums. Additional benefits of oil pulling that I’ve experienced is a decrease in tooth sensitivity, less plaque build-up and noticeably whiter teeth. So, while there’s no evidence that oil pulling will cure diseases, there’s a lot that shows it’s great for the health of your mouth and the health of your mouth is definitely linked to your overall health (like flossing regularly reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease).

If you want to reduce plaque, clean teeth, prevent cavities, freshen breath, whiten teeth and improve gum health.

Here’s the best way to try it:

  1. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of organic coconut oil in your mouth (not the amount pictured above). Coconut is more effective at killing the Strep bacteria than other kinds of oil, but you could also use sesame, sunflower or olive oil if you prefer.
  2. Let the oil melt and begin to gently swish it around your mouth. Don’t go crazy here, or your cheeks will get tired!
  3. Do something to distract yourself. We’re going to swish for 15 minutes, so find something to do to make the time fly by! I recommend jumping in the shower or getting your breakfast prepped. This will feel like a long time, but we need to give the oil time to loosen the plaque and bacteria.
  4. Once 15 minutes is up, spit the oil in the garbage, (not the sink, it’ll clog it up). Try not to swallow any of the oil since it’s holding on to bacteria and debris we want to get out of our mouth.
  5. Rinse your mouth with water. I like using a sea salt rinse, but plain warm water is fine too.
  6. Brush and floss the teeth. This helps to remove remaining oil and leftover debris oil pulling has loosened up.

That’s it! Simple, cheap and way better than the weird stuff in mouthwash.

With oil pulling, it’s like most good health routines, it’s best to do it regularly to notice the benefits. So, here’s your challenge - Get yourself some organic coconut oil, pull every day for 2 weeks and see if your mouth feels better.

Hilary McCain   •   July 7, 2015

Hello! If I am doing lemon water and oil-pulling in the morning, which should I do first? Does it matter? Thanks! Hilary

Kate McDonald Walker   •   July 7, 2015

Hi Hilary, People are a bit divided on this issue, but most people seem to favour lemon and water first, then oil pulling. Kate - Joyous Health Team

Katherine   •   July 9, 2015

Do you still brush with toothpaste?

Joy McCarthy   •   July 9, 2015

Yes definitely. I use our Joyous toothpaste here:

Heather   •   July 11, 2015

Woops! Tried for the first time this morning but mis-read the amount and used 1 tablespoon - probably why I only lasted 5 minutes. Will continue on for 2 weeks to see how this goes instead of Listerene :) Hoping that it does help to whiten naturally.

Kate McDonald Walker   •   July 12, 2015

Let us know how it goes! Kate - Joyous Health Team

Erin   •   September 12, 2015

Can you oil pull in the evening, before bed? (you only mention doing it in the morning) Thanks!

Rachel   •   February 6, 2017

Hey Erin! Yes, of course! Whenever works best for your schedule :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Larissa Chiappetta   •   February 5, 2017

Yes! Same question as Erin above. The evening is really the only chance I get to do it. It's hard to answer all of the kids questions with a mouth full of oil ;)

Rachel   •   February 6, 2017

Hey Larissa, Of course! You can do it whenever works best for your lifestyle and schedule :) Totally feel you – trying to take care of kids and their questions with a mouth full of oil wouldn't be too much fun, haha! Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Monika   •   June 28, 2017

I am doing oil pulling twice a day. It feels amazing afterwards. Yes, I use brush and floss to take extra plaque on teeth. My kids use it at night time also.

Rachel Molenda   •   June 29, 2017

That's amazing Monika! What a difference it makes, hey?! Happy to hear your kids are on board too :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

shanda W.   •   July 24, 2017

Hi i was wondering can i oil pull even if i have grey fillings and composite? Just wondering would it affect my fillings to fall out cause read mix reviews. Thank you

Rachel Molenda   •   July 24, 2017

Hey Shanda, As far as we know, you can practice oil puling with fillings. The oils will help to dissolve bacteria, cleanse away plaque and leave your teeth sparkling! With that said, it wouldn't be a bad idea to check in with your dentist before doing this to make 100% sure :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Kelly   •   January 2, 2018

What brand of coconut oil do you use? And is it the same brand you use for your toothpaste? Cheers

Rachel Molenda   •   January 2, 2018

Hey Kelly, Joy uses Nutiva or Artisana which are both organic, so she'll use those to oil pull or make her homemade toothpaste :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Kris G.   •   January 5, 2018

I'm on Day 10 of 2 weeks

Kris G.   •   January 5, 2018

My message got cut off! My question is how often can you do it on a regular basis? Daily? Can you do too much? Thanks!

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