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Try the Trend: Oil Pulling

Have you tried oil pulling? Along with juicing and essential oils, oil pulling is one of the latest crazes that has made homeopathic hip. Though "new" isn't the best word to describe oil pulling. This Ayurvedic healing practice dates back more than 5,000 years - though of course, just like Birkenstocks and fringe, everything that is old is new again. So what exactly is oil pulling? And have you tried it? We test out the trend.

Oil Pulling

How Does Oil Pulling Work? Oil pulling relies on a similar principle to cleaning your face with oil - “like dissolves like”. The oil you are swishing attracts the fatty, lipid-based cell walls of the bad microorganism in your mouth, allowing you to clean your teeth and breath without the use of abrasive toothbrushes or chemical cleaners in toothpastes. Many also claim that oil pulling absorbs toxins from the body which are then eliminated when you spit the oil out.

Benefits of Oil Pulling. The list of benefits from oil pulling is long and varied. The most common benefits are general oral hygiene, cavity prevention, teeth whitening, decreased tooth sensitivity and fresher breath. The wider list of benefits includes everything from helping hangovers, headaches and hormone imbalance to reducing arthritis, asthma and generally detoxing your body.

What To Do: Fortunately, if you want to try oil pulling, it's relatively simple. First, choose your cold-pressed oil. Many people use coconut oil for its natural antibacterial properties, but I've also heard of people using sesame oil, sunflower oil or blends like this. Put a spoonful in your mouth - yes, a spoonful of oil - and then swish.


Here's where it can get a little tricky. You're supposed to swish the oil for 15-20 minutes. That's a long time, people. There's the gag reflex some people have after a few minutes, the cheek muscles that usually can't hang that long, and the simple fact that as a mom, not talking for 20 minutes in the morning can be tricky - though also, in a way, a kind of luxurious zen-like getaway. If you're just starting out, I'd shoot for 2 minutes and then 5 and slowly build your way up to 15-20 minutes. Oil pulling should be done first thing in the morning before any food and yes, before your morning coffee.

The timing is key as 15-20 minutes seems to be the ideal amount to break down bacteria and plaque in the mouth without allowing the toxins to reabsorb into your body. When you are done, spit the oil out into the trash - not your sink as the oil can clog your pipes - and rinse with water to eliminate any residual oil.

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Does it Work? This is where things get a little slippery (oil pun intended). Proponents of oil pulling claim all of the benefits listed above - whiter teeth, fresher breather, better oral hygiene, and so on all without the use of the array of chemicals that can be found in toothpastes. I have a few friends who do it regularly, and I have to say that they have pretty great smiles. Plus there are a handful of small studies that show that oil pulling can help fight off plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath. As for some of the loftier claims....there is less to back that up. Not surprisingly, the American Dental Association is lukewarm on the practice. It says there are few proven benefits and it shouldn't replace your normal brushing and flossing with ADA-accepted products.

Momtrends Trend Test: I tried oil pulling off and on for a month with one of my sons who was prone to cavities between his teeth despite our regular flossing and brushing. While the practice of oil pulling definitely got easier, I can't say it got more enjoyable - though both my 7-year-old and I got up to doing 4 minutes comfortably. I didn't personally notice any change or benefit to my teeth though my teeth did feel clean after I did it. And my smile certainly was glossier when oil pulling - likely, as you can imagine, because my teeth were coated with a thin layer of oil.


What do you think about oil pulling? Had success? Heard horror stories?

Have you tried the trend?

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