For this Self Care Sunday, we are adding a simple practice to your oral hygiene routine. My personal experience with this practice has been whiter teeth, better breath and a noticeably cleaner mouth. Sound good? I thought so.
What is oil pulling and where did it come from?
As a basic definition, oil pulling is the practice of swishing an oil (coconut, sesame or sunflower) in one’s mouth with the hope of drawing out and killing bacteria to leave you with a cleaner mouth. The practice began in India, but as more and more Americans search for more holistic practices for better wellness, oil pulling has gotten a following here too.
What can oil pulling do for you?
Well, it depends on who you ask. Most people agree that it does help to clean your mouth, but some even make claims that it can help cleanse the blood and alleviate all sorts of health problems. Scientifically, I can not back up all of the health claims, so I am not going to list them here. It is not that Scientists have proven them to be untrue, but rather just a lack of experimentation and research (typical of holistic & alternative medicine) that makes them hard to back up. However, I can personally attest to the fact that oil pulling has absolutely whitened my teeth, improved my breath and improved my oral health. It also works as a natural decongestant for Chris in the morning, as he tends to have some sinus congestion when he wakes up.
I was introduced to oil pulling by my integrative medicine doctor. I had read about it previously as I desperately researched everything related to alternative medicine after my autoimmune disease diagnosis, but I had not tried it. It wasn’t until I had severe pain in my mouth, which led me to a dentist who gave me a prescription for antibiotics and told me I had to have a root canal. By that time in my wellness journey, I knew to get more answers, so I turned to my integrative doctor. He recommended oil pulling three times a day. And let me tell you, by the second day of following his instructions, my pain was totally gone. I went from pain waking me in the night and keeping me from sleep, to no pain and sleeping like a baby.
Since that time, I have used oil pulling once a day on almost a daily basis in addition to my regular oral wellness routine.
Instructions for starting oil pulling today!
- Take about a 1/2 T of coconut oil and put it in your mouth. You can adjust the amount as you get used to oil pulling. Most people can probably do a larger amount, but this seems to be the right amount for me. You can use sesame or sunflower oils, but coconut oil has proven itself to be more effective killing bacteria during oil pulling (Asian Journal of Public Health).
- Swish the oil around your mouth for 20 minutes. Start with just 5 minutes, or whatever you can handle and build up from there. The first few times it is a little awkward, but it gets easier and you will be able to do 20 minutes without even thinking about it. For our routine, we wake up and drink our sole, then we oil pull and I literally set a timer for 20 minutes, so that we can read our Bibles, check email, etc. and will be reminded when the 20 minutes is up. If you continue with your morning routine, you will not obsess over the oil in your mouth, and the time will fly by.
- Spit the oil out in to a trash can and rinse mouth with warm water or brush teeth to remove any lingering oil. Do NOT swallow the oil. The oil is full of the bacteria you just pulled from your mouth – you do not want to swallow it. Also, you do not want the oil in your pipes, so best to spit in to the trash.
That’s it! Do this routine when you get up in the morning before you eat. Oil pull once a day for at least two weeks straight, then you can cut back to a few times a week or every other day if desired.
As a bonus, you can add essential oils to your routine, just be careful not to make it too strong. Common ones to use are clove and thieves.
Remember, oil pulling is considered detoxification, and the decision to do it should always be considered with care.
And while you are working on your oral hygiene routine, don’t forget to try our homemade, non-toxic toothpaste!