The first thing I do in the morning these days isn’t a series of yoga stretches or even putting in my contacts — it’s oil pulling.
If you haven’t heard of this ayurvedic technique before, you’re not alone. I only recently discovered the practice and have since become obsessed with it. Since beginning the regimen, my teeth have never been whiter or stronger and it’s a gentle way to get rid of morning breath.
Basically, oil pulling involves putting a tablespoon of oil into your mouth and swishing it around for fifteen to twenty minutes on an empty stomach. Then you spit it out.
Sound odd? Judge all you want but oil pulling is reported to have loads of health benefits, which include stronger teeth and gums, fresher breath, whiter teeth, alleviation of sinus issues and more.
According to Erica Lederman, Ayurvedic Health Practitioner at New York’s Ayurveda in the City, it’s at least a great way to keep your mouth healthy.
“Oil is bacteriostatic, meaning it inhibits bacteria growth. Cavities are caused by bacteria, not sugar. Sugar simply feeds the bacteria that cause the cavities,” she says. “Oil pulling, therefore, decreases both gum disease and cavities when done on a regular basis.”
Even my dentist, Dr. Shimma Abdulla of Rittenhouse Dentists in Philadelphia agrees that oil pulling is great for oral health, but antibacterial oils like coconut oil must be used:
“Coconut oil is specifically thought to have antibacterial and antifungal properties which can provide benefits like reducing bad breath caused by bacteria in the mouth when used regularly as a mouth rinse,” she reveals. “It is also less harsh than alcohol-based mouth rinses which can dry the mouth and remove the good bacteria with the bad.”
She also emphasizes using a high quality coconut oil for maximum benefits, since some varieties are heated and lose nutritional value. Right now I’m using a cold-pressed, organic, extra virgin coconut oil from Carrington Farms for my routine.
Dr. Abdulla does caution that oil pulling does not replace routine dental care like brushing and flossing, since plaque needs to be removed mechanically from tooth surfaces.
In terms of my experience with seeing whiter teeth, Dr. Abdulla also notes that there is no scientific evidence to prove that.
If you’d like to try it yourself, oil pulling is as easy as picking up some coconut oil and digging in. The hardest part is not talking for twenty minutes straight, so I just practice my piano scales to keep me busy.
Have you tried oil pulling? Tell us your experience with it in the comments below.