Oil Pulling

DSC02911I hate flossing.  In fact, I flossed exactly twice last year (both in the month prior to going to the dentist) and twice the year before that (can you guess when?!). While I’m an avid brusher (twice in the morning on either side of my oil pull, and once at night), the rest of my oral hygiene is nothing to brag about.  Despite this, (or quite in fact because of the oil pulling), by dental hygienist last check up said there was no plaque on my teeth.  None.  She was astounded.  She had also heard of oil pulling, but hadn’t seen any definitive evidence of its effects. My mouth was darn good proof.

So let’s get intimate.  By explaining oil pulling to you, you are now getting in on a morning routine that I practice nearly every single day. I’ve been doing this for about two years now, and while most people pull from 10-20 minutes a day, I generally pull a minimum of 20, and occasionally up to 45 minutes.

I make it happen when I’m tired, running late, when I’m visiting folks at their houses, and especially when I’m feeling sick. It as as integral to my mornings as brushing my teeth, and fact, plays right into that routine, my forcing me to brush first thing in the morning, and then again 20 minutes later.

Even though that’s a natural segue into the how of oil pulling, first, I’d like to talk about the why. I first learned about oil pulling about five years ago, while living in Palestine and nursing a bad cold which made its way into bronchitis, and eventually pneumonia.  Without my regular cabinet arsenal of vitamins and tinctures, I looked up methods for detoxifying the body and learned about oil pulling, an Ayurvedic practice that has been used for upwards of 3,000 years as part of a traditional Indian medicinal system for oral hygiene and for detoxifying the body.

The main purpose of oil pulling is for oral health. Swishing oil in one’s mouth will draw microorganisms to the oil, and then once it’s spit it out – phatoeey! – the microorganisms that contribute to plaque build-up, gingivitis, and cause bad breath are spit out with the oil. Coconut oil specifically is high in Lauric Acid, which is anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral… so just the act of swishing it around in your mouth can take out quite a few nasties.

This also has a positive effect on the body on a larger scale. Since the mouth is essentially a cesspool of germs that are passed through the body when swallowed, limiting those germs effectually reduces stress on the immune system and keeps a person healthier, by limiting the amount of contagion said person is exposed to.  I’ve also read that while swishing the oil in one’s mouth, saliva continues to enter the mouth, bringing with it a host of microorganisms that the oil can then grab. The oil is then not only doing a complete cleanse of the mouth, but is also pulling additional toxins from the body for the duration of the pull. Which brings me to an important point – a good, long pull is where it’s at.

What you’ll need:

  • One tbsp. of your choice of virgin oil.  I prefer coconut oil for its aforementioned properties, but virgin olive oil, sesame oil, or sunflower oil work great too.


  • Brush your teeth first thing when you get up in the morning.  Do not drink water first, or eat anything! Your mouth has been collecting microorganisms while you’ve been sleeping, and you want to get rid of those, as opposed to swallowing them and spreading them through your system.
  • Take a tbsp of your choice of oil, and put it in your mouth. DSC02917
  • Swish the oil gently as you get dressed, make coffee, or otherwise go about your morning.  Gently pull the oil between your teeth and move it around your mouth.  This doesn’t need to be aggressive – it can be fairly subconscious.  *Do not swallow the oil!
  • Pull the oil for 20 minutes.  If you want to start with less, or some days you are in a hurry, no worries.  5 minutes should be the minimum, but it’s like running.  Running a mile instead of three is still better than not running at all.
  • Head outside to spit out your oil.  Some people opt for the trash, but if the bag has a hole, that can get messy.  Avoid spitting into toilets or sinks, as you’ll quickly see how the oil contributes to grimy bathroom fixtures.
  • After spitting, brush your teeth again! This will remove the last of the oil.  Make sure you brush your tongue, and look in awe at it’s lovely pinkness – not a trace of white ickies that so often coat the tongue and contribute to bad breath!

Oil pulling will help keep your mouth free of plaque, help keep teeth whiter, and your breath fresher.  Many oil-pullers report skin clearing (especially in the face),   a reduction of eczema, and overall increased health and vitality.

Personally, I can attest to having vast improvements in the cleanliness of my mouth – with a pinker tongue, less plaque, and particularly smooth feeling teeth (does that sound odd?! It’s real). This could also be partially attributed to my own homemade toothpaste though… Recipe coming soon.


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