Oil Pulling: What is It and Why You Should Do it Every Morning


Despite being a novelty in Western society, oil pulling is an age-old remedy embedded in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.
Maybe you’ve heard of oil pulling, but you’re not sure what it means or how it’s done. Perhaps you’ve never heard of it at all! 
In this blog, we’re covering the ins and outs of this simple and effective ancient technique so you can jump on the oil pulling health wagon yourself!

What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is simply the act of swishing oil (usually Coconut, Sesame or Sunflower) in the mouth for up to 20 minutes first thing in the morning. The oil is pulled back and forth through the teeth and gums and then spat out.

This oil acts as a powerful cleanser, picking up and drawing out the millions of bacteria and toxins that live in our mouths. It cuts through plaque and removes toxins from the body.
Oil pulling is a natural way to clean and detoxify the teeth and gums and even has the added bonus effect of whitening teeth naturally, helping to improve our overall oral health.

oil pulling for healthy teeth and gums

Benefits of Oil Pulling

The ancient Ayurvedic remedy of oil pulling has been associated with benefiting a huge range of ailments, including:

  • gum disease
  • tooth decay
  • plaque formation
  • dental cavies
  • bad breath
  • sinus congestion
  • headaches
  • allergies
  • acne
  • joint inflammation

How to Oil Pull

It really is incredibly simple. All you need is a spoon and good quality oil. For example, organic coconut, sesame, sunflower or even olive oil and you’re ready!

Oil pulling is best done in the morning, before eating or drinking anything.

Oil Pulling How To:

Step One

Put anything from 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon of oil onto a spoon and into the mouth.

Step Two

Actively swish the oil around your mouth for 20 minutes.
Really actively swish that oil around, don’t just let it sit there. Swish the oil in the mouth, moving it around both sides, in front of, behind, and through the teeth.

You may notice that the oil gets thicker in consistency in the mouth and takes on a milky colour when spat out. Don’t be alarmed – this is perfectly normal! As is the fact that it can double in volume during these 20 minutes due to the addition of your saliva.

Lipids in the oils begin to pull out toxins from the saliva. As the oil is swished around the mouth, teeth, gums and tongue, it continues to absorb toxins. This usually ends up turning thick and viscous and white.

Step Three

Spit oil into the bin.
Although it may be tempting to spit into the sink, the oil can actually thicken and clog your pipes (yes it happens!). So spit into a tissue and pop it in the bin.

It’s also VERY IMPORTANT to not swallow the oil. The oil is loaded with bacteria, toxins and all kinds of nasties that are now thankfully removed from your system. The whole purpose of oil pulling is to remove these things from the body so swallowing it wouldn’t be good!

oil pulling for healthy teeth and gums

Step Four

Rinse well with warm water.
Once you’ve spat out the oil, rinse your mouth with warm water and swish it around a few times to get rid of any remaining oil out of the mouth. I often use warm salt water as salt is also great for oral health.

Step Five

Brush your teeth.
Once you’ve pulled and rinsed, simply brush your teeth as normal.

As with anything, don’t expect miracles overnight.
You may feel your teeth feel much cleaner after the first pull, but don’t expect to see life-changing results after oil pulling 3 times! It can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months to begin to see the benefits. Have patience, my friends.

What Oil Should I Use for Pulling?

Coconut oil has strong anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory properties. It also has a milder taste than other oils. It is also said to be more effective at whitening. This is my personal favourite choice.

Sesame oil is traditionally used in the Ayurvedic tradition and is another great option. It has warming properties, is high in antioxidants and helps to moisten and nourish your whole body from inside out.
Sesame seed oil is the most well studied and considered safe for those who are not allergic to sesame seeds.

Sunflower oil is also an option, as is olive oil, though olive is not considered the best option.

The most important factor to consider with oils is to ensure they are high-quality organic oils, preferably from glass containers. Additionally, it’s best to avoid using any high Omega-6 or chemically created oils like vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, etc.

coconut oil for oil pulling

Do I Really Have to Swish for The Whole 20 Minutes?

Timing is quite an important aspect as anything less than 20 minutes is considered not long enough to break through plaque and bacteria. Anything longer may actually allow the toxins and bacteria to be reabsorbed back into the body.

But don’t worry, you won’t be the only one to struggle with the full 20 minutes, trust me. I also found it difficult when I started.
If at the beginning you can only manage 5 minutes, great! That’s better than 0! 
Over the week, try bringing yourself up to 10. Once you’ve mastered that, you can keep it up and eventually hit 20.

There are also various recommendations for how much oil to use. Personally, I started off with 1 teaspoon because a whole tablespoon was too much. It took me a good 3 months to build up to 1 tablespoon. If you want to stick with 1 teaspoon then do it – no stress.

And finally, let’s focus on what else you can accomplish in those twenty minutes! If you simply sit down and stare at your feet for 20 minutes it’s going to be a painfully boring experience.

Personally, I find this is the optimum time to dry skin brush and take a shower. Perhaps I left my washing up in the sink overnight – 20 minutes gives me a nice slot of time to put away my dry dishes and wash up the dirties. Maybe even put the kettle on ready for my morning cuppa!
You could even just use this time to meditate, read the paper or scroll through Instagram if you wish.

All you need to do it let your swishing be natural and gentle and try not to talk to anyone so as to avoid pouring oil down your chin!

Are There Any Downsides to Oil Pulling?

Some people notice a bit of a detox reaction for the first few days of using oil pulling, so it’s good to know this may occur so that you don’t panic and give up. If your body needs to rid itself of toxins, let it. It is a perfectly normal bodily reaction when using natural ways of healing. Persistence is key.

You may experience detox reactions like:

  • mild congestion
  • headache
  • mucous drainage
  • a sore throat
  • feelings like a cold is coming on.
  • you may simply feel a little under the weather.

Some people may find that their symptoms might intensify before they go away entirely.
I personally didn’t notice any of these effects, but I know a couple of people who felt they did.

Overall, oil pulling is an inexpensive additional routine for oral health that has no known downsides (so long as it is done correctly using high-quality oils). Plus ut could potentially have great benefits for your oral health, so why not give it a try?

Please check with a dentist if you suffer from any major dental problems or have metal fillings or crowns.

My own experience with oil pulling……

I’ve been oil pulling on an off for several years, and my personal experience has been very positive.
I’ve experienced a decrease in plaque, a reduction in tooth sensitivity and an overall whitening of my teeth.

From friends that I have encouraged to take up oil pulling, I’ve heard even more positive reviews.
One friend who suffered from severe migraines weekly began oil pulling and for 3 straight months didn’t suffer from a single one.
Another friend with sinus issues found relief from their reoccurring sinus infections, and another completely healed their constant toothache.
Oil pulling is a great way to achieve a full-body detox and it compliments a healthy routine, diet and lifestyle.

Try it out and see what you think!

For more tips on caring for your teeth naturally, check out my 3 part blog series parts one, two and three 🙂 

Emily Nöth

Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.

Follow (and chat with us) on Facebook and Instagram or subscribe to our weekly Nourish newsletter.

Image of Nourish female staff member standing in doorway of shop

*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention

Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication

If you are experiencing any discomfort in the mouth, including teeth pain, bleeding gums etc. please consult your dentist. This information is not a replacement for medical advice.