Google “oil pulling,” and you’ll find countless testimonials by people who are hooked on this natural mouthwash.
You’ve probably heard of oil pulling: an ancient Ayurvedic technique that involves swishing oil around your mouth, with the goal of drawing out toxins and improving oral health. Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr swears by it (and she has great teeth). But are the benefits legit, and how do you do it?
Besides freshening your breath, oil pulling is believed to be a powerful tool for detoxifying the entire body. Fans of oil pulling also report that it helps to
- whiten teeth
- treat gum diseases
- ward off tooth decay
- soothe dry throat and cracked lips
Although scientific evidence is limited, one small study that compared oil pulling and mouthwash use found that both reduced plaque—and the oil probably tasted better. Another study found that oil pulling with coconut oil reduced plaque formation and plaque-induced gingivitis.
The bottom line? Whether or not you buy into the hype, oil pulling is a generally safe, natural technique, so there’s likely no harm in trying it.
When: In the morning! Oil pulling is best done before eating or drinking, when your tongue feels like a bacteria-covered carpet.
What: First, you’ll need an oil. Coconut oil is popular thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits, and it can be used solid or melted. Otherwise, any edible oil—sesame, sunflower, olive—will do the trick.
How: Gently swish 1 to 2 tsp (5 to 10 mL) oil around your mouth, pulling the oil through your teeth. Do this for 15 to 20 minutes, ideally, or five minutes if the sensation of oil in your mouth is offputting.
An important note: Don’t swallow the oil. The idea here is to draw toxins out of your body—not ingest them. To avoid clogged drains, consider spitting the oil into the trash. After, rinse your mouth with water, brush your teeth as normal, and smile all day to show off your polished pearly whites.