OIL PULLING 101
What, Why & How To Keep Your Teeth, Tongue and Gums Healthy & Clean
Do you remember a few years ago when coconut oil was the new miracle food? People used it for everything–taking off their makeup, moisturizing their hair, and even gargling it!
Now, that last one might sound a little weird. But oil pulling, as the practice is known in the West, actually comes from a traditional Ayurvedic practice to keep the teeth, tongue, and gums healthy and clean. We’re going to go over the history and benefits of oil pulling, as well as how to do it. Keep reading to learn more about a quick and cheap addition to your dental routine that will keep your oral hygiene in tip top shape!
Oil Pulling 101: What To Know And How To Do It
What Is Oil Pulling And Where Does It Come From?
First, what exactly is oil pulling?
It’s when you take a little bit of oil–it can be coconut oil, but doesn’t have to be–and swish it around your mouth. You “pull” it through your teeth, kind of like mouthwash. What we call oil pulling comes from two different Ayurvedic practices–kavala and gundusha.
What Is Kavala?
Kavala is a lot like modern oil pulling. It was an Ayurvedic practice to clean the teeth and mouth. To perform kavala, you put some oil in your mouth and gargled while swishing it vigorously around your mouth. These days, people tend not to gargle with the oil, and some people specifically say not to gargle when you pull oil.
In Ayurveda, kavala is supposed to help with diseases and disorders of the upper body, including the neck, head, ears, eyes, and mouth.
What Is Gundusha?
Gundusha (also translated into gundusa) is a little different from kavala and modern oil pulling, because instead of swishing oil around in your mouth gundusha is all about simply holding the oil in your mouth. This is supposed to be done first thing in the morning while sitting in a warm, sunny spot in your house.
And when it comes to gundusha, you don’t have to use oil. You can also use ghee (clarified butter), a mixture of honey and water, and milk. Just use a smaller amount of honey than ghee, according to tradition.
According to Ayurvedic tradition, gandusha is supposed to be good for your face, jaw, throat, teeth, and gums. And if any of your dosha (energy types) need a little boost, there’s a gandusha for that.
- Snigdha gandusa uses oil infused with sweet, sour, and salty flavors and helps to heal vata disorders.
- Shamana gandusa is done with oil that’s both sweet and bitter. It should help with pitta disorders.
- Shodhana gandusa uses oil infused with warming ingredients that are bitter, sour, or salty in order to pacify kapha disorders.
Benefits Of Oil Pulling
In Ayurveda, the tongue is kind of like a radar for the health of the entire body. The tongue is used to diagnose diseases and disorders, so it’s especially important to keep your mouth healthy. Here are just some of the benefits of oil pulling–put forward by Ayurveda, and backed up by Western science.
There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a close conversation with someone with stinky breath. With oil pulling, you don’t have to worry about offending anyone with your skunk breath anymore. Oil pulling actually helps kill the same bacteria that causes bad breath, halitosis. In fact, a study showed that mouthwash and oil pulling are equally good at killing this stinky germ!
Make Your Dentist Happy
Oil pulling doesn’t just freshen your breath. It’s an all-around dental hygiene superstar! Studies show that oil pulling kills the Streptococcus mutans bacteria that leads to tooth decay. It’s also the cause of plaque build up, so oil pulling tackles two birds with one stone. Your dentist will be thrilled at your check-ups, and you won’t have to worry about things like gingivitis and cavities.
Keep Your Nose Healthy
So far, not many studies have been done about the effects of oil pulling on your sinus health. But there are a lot of anecdotal stories about how oil pulling can clear harmful germs, dirt, and bacteria out the sinuses. It makes sense that oil pulling could help sinus health because the mouth and sinus are so close.
How To Oil Pull
Ready to freshen your breath and keep your gums and teeth squeaky clean? Here’s everything you need to know to start oil pulling.
First of, you need to know when to oil pull. Like gundusha, oil pulling should happen in the morning. Try to do it first thing before you eat. You should also try to pull after you brush your teeth. That way, you don’t brush away the good bacteria that oil pulling can leave behind.
Next, you need to pick your oil. Coconut oil is a popular choice because you can find it at most grocery stores, it’s affordable, and it’s got a nice taste. But if coconut isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other options. You can also try using:
- Sesame oil
- Sunflower oil
- Olive oil
- Palm oil
On the other hand, there are certain oils that you shouldn’t use for oil pulling. Avoid corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, soy oil, and flaxseed oil.
Now that you have your oil picked out, measure out 1 tablespoon and put it in your mouth. Swish it around your mouth like mouthwash, making sure to hit every surface of your gums, teeth, and tongue. Keep doing this for 10-20 minutes. It might be difficult at first to pull for such a long time, so just build up your tolerance by gradually increasing the time you have the oil in your mouth.
When the oil is ready to be spit out, it will be thin and whitish. Make sure not to spit it down the drain because lots of oils can clog pipes. Instead, spit it out in the trash. Whatever you do–don’t swallow the oil. It’s full of all the nasty dirt and bacteria you want to get rid of. If you want, you can rinse your mouth out with lukewarm water, and you’re done!
It’s a new year, so maybe it’s time for a new healthy habit. Whether you’re trying to impress your dentist or deal with dosha imbalances, oil pulling is a quick, easy, and affordable way to keep your mouth clean and healthy. Just don’t forget to keep up with brushing and flossing, too, to see the best benefits.