How Does Oil Pulling Work?

coconuts with coconut oil pulling solution

Oil pulling works by finding, trapping, and removing particles, bacteria, and debris from your mouth.

The “pulling” is the action of swishing the oil through your teeth as you would with mouthwash. Those who do it regularly say that it guards against plaque and tartar buildup, bad breath, cavities, gingivitis, inflamed gums.  

Oil pulling is simple! After brushing just measure out about one tablespoon of a natural oil, place it in your mouth, and swish it around like mouthwash for about 2-3 minutes. When finished, spit the used oil into a trashcan and rinse your mouth thoroughly with water.

Oil pulling is designed to work alongside your regular brushing and flossing routine and isn’t meant to be used as a replacement. It is not a recommended substitution for dental cleanings or checkups, either.


Why does oil pulling work?

Oil pulling is not some gimmicky, holistic fad. There is some serious science behind how and why oil pulling works. 

Bacteria molecules contain an outer layer of fat that is attracted and will cling to other fatty substances when introduced. So, when oil, a natural fatty substance, gets pulled and pushed around your mouth, it’s meeting thousands of bacteria that live there. The oil acts like a sponge, absorbing the bacteria in your mouth. Because of this, it is imperative to spit the oil out and NOT to swallow it when you are through oil pulling since the oil is full of bacteria.

Another reason why oil works so well is its liquid form. While regular brushing can help to dislodge and scrape the bacteria found on the surface of your teeth, gums, and tongue, it doesn’t get into those tiny tight spaces between teeth. Even flossing, though also essential, can’t flow through every part of your mouth.

Did you know that oil pulling and teeth brushing are literally are polar opposites? Water, an additive typically used in brushing, is “polar,” meaning it can help to push and pull some things from the mouth but won’t do much at attracting and removing non-polar bacteria. Oil, on the other hand, is a “non-polar substance” that can help to dissolve microbes, providing you with any even cleaner mouth.



How long does oil pulling take?

For maximum results, practice oil pulling daily for about 15 to 20 minutes. It’s harder than it sounds. Building up a tolerance (and your mouth muscles) for a full 20 minutes of swishing each day can take some time.

When beginning an oil pulling routine, many people start with just 2-3 minutes, or what you can handle, and slowly increase their time each day. The initial taste and texture can also be off putting, which is why coconut oil is so popular. If that happens, look for oil mixtures that contain natural flavoring ingredients, such as peppermint, that may make the experience easier to stomach.

Like any new practice, start with what you can do and test new ways to make it more enjoyable for you.


What oil should I use for oil pulling?

There are lots of natural oils available, and almost all are going to give you some results. However, many swishing experts will recommend coconut oil. For one, coconut oil tastes better, but more importantly, it also contains many natural microbial properties that can provide more effective cleaning and natural fats that can strengthen your teeth’s enamel.

Activated charcoal is a natural substance known for its detoxifying properties and is commonly used in various cleansing rituals from skincare to dental hygiene. Like a magnet, activated charcoal draws out impurities buried deep within hard to reach places from our pores to our gums. Oil pulling with activated charcoal and other incredibly beneficial ingredients, like Vitamin E and Peppermint, can help to supercharge your daily swishing for a healthier, whiter smile.


How did oil pulling start?

Oil pulling is an age-old technique that has been used by Indian Ayurveda practitioners for thousands of years as part of a holistic treatment for a healthier mind, body, and soul. It has remained a widespread practice in many areas of India. For centuries, holistic health practitioners from India have recognized the benefits of oil pulling, referred to as Kavala Graha in Ayurveda, and its ability to help people achieve holistic balance and a cleaner, healthier, brighter, and fresher smile.

Today society’s collective interest in green beauty has led to consumers questioning the ingredients in traditional kinds of toothpaste and mouthwash products. As a result, they are seeking alternatives to home dental care, including oil pulling.

Read more

Do You Brush Before Or After Oil Pulling? Navigating Your Oral Care Routine

Do You Brush Before Or After Oil Pulling? Navigating Your Oral Care Routine

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