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What is Oil Pulling and Why Should I Do It

Oil pulling. I’m sure you’ve heard of it on Instagram or from your most new-agey friend. But what the hell is it? Essentially, oil pulling is the ancient Ayurvedic practice of swishing oil in the mouth to rid the mouth of bacteria and the body of toxins. Now listen, it’s not as wivestale-ish as it sounds. Actually, recent studies have found that it helps in the fight against gingivitis, plaque and bad breath!

But…how? How does it work? Most of the bacteria living in your mouth are composed of a single cell. A cell’s skin is made of a fatty membrane, or lipid, and when they come in contact with another fat (the oil) they naturally adhere to one another. (Jessica T. Emery, DMD.) The oil also moisturizes the gums and slides between teeth, loosening any debris for when it comes time to floss and brush!

The second part of the benefits of oil pulling seems to be slightly more anecdotal. However, it is widely believed that it detoxifies the body by pulling oil-soluble toxins from the body through the tissue of the mouth. This theory has not been thoroughly researched, but a study found that some of the organisms that live in the mouth could lead to systemic disease, and therefore it is believed that oil pulling could reduce the risk by removing some of these organisms.

So you figure, why the heck not? I’ll give it a whirl? But again… how? Well, it’s simple really. Take a tablespoon of oil, (it has been indicated that coconut oil is the best as it has antimicrobial properties, but olive oil and sunflower oil work well too!) put the oil in your mouth, and swish! Ideally, you should do this for about 20 minutes a day. It sounds like quite a lot, and who really has the time to add another thing to their routine? But you can work your way up! Start with five minutes and then ten… You can do it while you take your morning shower or do your *morning business*. It shouldn’t be vigorous to where your jaw aches, but instead, a slow and steady, almost meditative movement. I’ve actually come to find it as a really calming part of my day!

Oil pulling isn’t a substitute for your regular oral care, but rather supplemental. It is recommended you do it daily, in the morning on an empty stomach, before flossing and brushing. You’ll feel a difference in your mouth after your first pull and it only gets better from there! You can look forward to fresher breath, a cleaner mouth, healthier, younger looking gums and perhaps, a lot more detoxifying going on under the surface! Happy swishing, friends!