Dental hygiene hasn’t always been a thorough brushing and flossing twice per day. In fact, the toothpaste and toothbrush as we know it wasn’t standard in the average American household until the early 1900s.
We know what you’re thinking: “What did my great-great-great-grandpa use to polish his choppers?” and “How did our ancestors keep funky breath at bay?” In addition to their diets (which contained far less sugar than ours today), dental health was maintained simply by using chewing sticks and oil pulling.
Oil pulling is a detoxification process that takes place when one swishes plant-based oil in their mouth for an extended period of time. In the most literal sense, the oil “pulls” impurities away from the teeth and gums, and kills bacteria that has built up in the oral cavity over time.
Oil pulling has been recommended for thousands of years in Indian Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga and one of the world’s oldest medical systems. It is believed that the body holds doshas, or bodily energies, and in order to reap the highest physical and psychological benefits, a person must have an even balance between their doshas. Imbalance of these energies is said to increase a person’s vulnerability to disease so a daily routine was and continues to be recommended in order to keep the bodily systems balanced and healthy. Oil pulling is an essential part of the daily routine to create a harmony between the doshas.
The science may be ancient, but the benefits of oil pulling are real, including:
reduced gum inflammation
improved oral health
elimination of bad breath
whitening of teeth
You may be wondering: What does oil pulling do that my everyday dental routine doesn’t?
Simply put, it does all of the above naturally, without any chemicals, toxins, or preservatives, which are found in most commercial oral care products. However, if you’re already using more natural products, you can still benefit from oil pulling and using coconut oil in particular.
In a study on the effects of coconut oil in plaque-related gingivitis, researchers had 60 male and female participants affected with the disease practice oil pulling with coconut oil for 30 days. Coconut oil contains 45-50 percent lauric acid which is known for having antimicrobial properties and for being a proven anti-inflammatory. By the end of the trial, participants showed a significant decrease in plaque and improved oral health. Researchers expect that the film created by swishing the oil hinders the adhesion of plaque to teeth, protecting against gingivitis.
Try for yourself!
Oil pulling is easy and effective so give it a try! First thing in the morning, before any brushing or ingestion of liquids, spoon out one tablespoon of coconut oil and allow it to liquefy in your mouth. Begin to swish gently, continuing for 5 to 20 minutes. The more time you allow, the better. We suggest oil pulling while taking a shower or during another daily morning routine so that the time passes easily.
Once time is up, spit into the trash- not down the drain. It’s an oil after all. Gargling is also an option before discarding; Ayurveda attributes this action as an important extra step to purifying the entire body. Do not swallow, as you’ll only be bringing the impurities back into the body instead of ridding yourself of them. Finish by rinsing with warm water and brushing your teeth. Pulling at least twice per week is recommended, but a daily routine is ideal to attain maximum results