The popularity of oil pulling, which is an ancient Ayurvedic practice from India to improve dental health, is resurging in the country after being raved about by health enthusiasts in western countries. It is a practice of swishing edible oil in your mouth with an aim to clean and whiten your teeth naturally.
This method has been around for thousands of years in India, and some Ayurveda experts say that it works much better than regular mouthwash. Oil pulling is also believed to purify the body by “pulling” or drawing impurities like undigested food and natural toxins out of it. It also moisturises and nourishes your gums and the tissues inside your mouth, along with increasing saliva production, which can reduce bacteria. Edible oil like sesame oil and coconut oil are usually used as an absorption or pulling medium.
What is oil pulling?
In Ayurveda, Gandusha, which means filling your mouth to full capacity and Kavala, which means gargling, both activities are prescribed to be a vital part of your dincharya (daily routine). Oil pulling incorporates these two steps as per the ancient science.
Gandhusha and Kavala should be done after brushing your teeth and before putting anjana or ointment in your eyes according to Ayurveda. Doing this helps you create pressure around your jaws, salivary glands, and lymph nodes. It works similar to a detoxification and draining process by working the muscles in your mouth from within.
Kavala entails swishing something in your mouth—it could be an oil, a decoction or any sort of liquid. It could also be vinegar or hot water and honey. Ayurveda tells us that there are different types of liquids fit for daily gargling to achieve good health.
Traditionally, sesame oil is recommended in Ayurveda, as it is good for bones, lung health and is said to strengthen the body and even hair. Sesame oil does tend to leave an unpleasant and strong aftertaste, so, you can even substitute it with coconut oil, which is a much more palatable medium.
Benefits of oil pulling
- Oil pulling removes plaque that even toothpaste is not able to eliminate. It dissolves the plaque much better than regular water-based mouthwashes and may help prevent cavities.
- It doesn’t kill good bacteria. Oil pulling strikes a very sensitive balance between your healthy and bad bacteria. When we use strong chemical ingredients like menthol mouth washes to clean our mouth, it may seem like it’s doing a good job because it *feels* fresh, but in fact, it’s so intense that it ends up killing the good bacteria as well. Oil, on the other hand, maintains that harmony and is good for our dental health.
- Improves digestive health. When you practise Gandusha and Kavala regularly, it stimulates your digestive tract and helps balance your doshas, which prevents many diseases, Ayurveda says. When you stimulate and massage your mouth with an oil, it helps fight vata dosha in your gut and also keeps metabolic problems in check.
- Improves heart health. There are also studies that prove the link between bad oral hygiene and bad heart health. If you have good, healthy saliva, you will end up making better food choices, leading to a healthier heart.
- Oil pulling can also lead to clearer sinuses, and relieve jaw and neck tensions.
- Could help reduce bad breath, inflammation and improve gum health. Gingivitis is a type of gum disease marked by red, swollen gums that bleed easily. The bacteria found in plaque are a major cause of gingivitis, as they can cause bleeding and inflammation in the gums. Fortunately, oil pulling may be an effective remedy to improve gum health and reduce inflammation.
How to do the oil pulling method?
- Measure one tablespoon of oil, such as coconut, sesame or olive oil.
- Using some force, pull the oil through your teeth and swish it around in your mouth for 15–20 minutes, being careful not to swallow any.
- Once you’re done, spit the oil into a waste bin or even your yard, if you live in a bigger house with open spaces and gardens. Avoid spitting it into the sink or toilet, as this can cause a buildup of oil, which may lead to clogging.
- Rinse your mouth well using water before eating or drinking anything.
- Repeat these steps a few times per week or up to three times daily. You may also want to start slow and work your way up, starting with swishing for just 5 minutes and increasing the duration until you’re able to do it for a full 15–20 minutes. Flexing your jaw muscles is no joke, it needs mammoth strength, believe us!
- For the best results, most experts recommend doing this first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, although you can adjust and adapt based on your personal preferences.
Here’s a video that would help.