Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that has been handed down over the ages as good oral care. Oil pulling or allowing your body to soak in the oil by swishing or holding it in the mouth is believed to whiten your teeth, help gingivitis and reduce microorganisms and plaque that can cause bad breath. You can use sunflower, sesame or coconut oil. To “oil pull” you need to take a tea-spoon or table-spoons worth and swish it in your mouth. You can start with doing this for five minutes and gradually build it up to twenty minutes. Your jaws are likely to hurt from the exercise and if you find yourself swallowing the oil, you have probably used too much. Once done, you spit out the oil which is likely to appear cloudy. This is because skin of the cells in your mouth which are made of lipids bond with the oil molecules, which you then eliminate while spitting.
In a study conducted on a small cohort, oil pulling was shown to be statistically significant in reducing plaque and gingivitis. Oil pulling is also recommended because in Ayurveda it is believed that the tongue is linked to the liver, lungs, kidney, heart, intestines etc. It is believed that through oil pulling a wide variety of chronic illnesses can be prevented. Some of the issues that are believed to be addressed by oil pulling include back pains, allergies, Crohn’s disease, constipation, bleeding gums, migraines and insomnia.
Oral care is much overlooked and besides brushing your teeth once a day, many people don’t think of other options. Your mouth however is the gateway to all food and drink which is entering your body and therefore the more hygienic its condition, the greater the reduction in risk of diseases. Oil pulling is not recommended as a substitute to regular dental care such as brushing, flossing or cleaning your tongue. Also, some people can be allergic to oil and trying a patch test may be advised.
PS: I have known about this for almost ten years now as my own dad has been practicing oil pulling using sesame oil for this duration. Personally I have been reluctant to try as the notion of swirling oil in my mouth is not very appealing. After what I have read, I am more inclined to try, perhaps using coconut oil which is apparently easier on the palate.