Oil Pulling & Oral Hygiene

by Emily Bowles

Oil pulling refers to the oral hygiene routine of swishing coconut or olive oils around in the mouth for 5-20 minutes each morning. The results of this practice are staggering. Oil pulling busts tooth decaying, heals bleeding gums, moistens dry throats and soothes cracked lips. It cures hangovers and is great for the immune system. Oil pulling even improves acne, reduces inflammation, and prevents heart disease. It actually is known to cure thirty systemic diseases when practiced regularly. There are a handful of studies out now that prove this. (See: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=%22oil+pulling%22).

Image by Joshua Rappeneker

This is an Ayurvedic practice, the wisdom of which was brought to us by India. The Department of Pediatric Dentistry in Tamil Nadu, India determined that oil pulling reduces streptococcus mutans bacteria. You can get rid of alcohol based mouthwashes because coconut oil was proven to be just as effective at fighting bad breath. Mouthwash kills not only the bad bacteria but also the good. Using coconut oil as a replacement is recommended by dentists. It’s best to do the oil pulling, brush, floss, and then rinse with hydrogen peroxide for an optimum clean.

The reason oil pulling purifies not just the mouth, but the body’s entire system is because of the energetic meridians that run along the tongue. Each section of the tongue corresponds to an organ, or another body part–like the liver or heart. By keeping a clean mouth, you are honoring the entire body.

Coconut oil is antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal. It contains lauric acid and Vitamin E. It’s not only moisturizing, it’s also nutritious. Coconut oil has been known to balance hormones and blood sugar. It also functions as a fantastic carrier oil in the dilution of therapeutic essential oils.

Essential oils can be used to enhance your morning oil pull. Three main oils I recommend to be added to your dental care routine are cinnamon, peppermint, and clove. Cinnamon oil decreases inflammation. It fights free radicals, viruses, and parasites. It increases circulation and stimulates the immune system. It’s fantastic at treating skin conditions, so would be a great option for those with cold sores. It also treats sore throats by reducing pain and inflammation.

Peppermint oil has anti-microbial properties. It helps to freshen the breath. The cooling sensation can be stimulating and perfect for a morning boost of energy. Peppermint oil soothes the digestion, clears chest congestion, and eases headaches. It can also relieve scratchy throats. For infants who are teething, a 1:1 ratio of coconut and peppermint oil rubbed on the gums should provide some relief.

Clove is another cleansing oil. It can be used to treat a toothache. It contains the compound eugenol, which is used in dentistry. It’s also effective at treating pain for sore gums or ulcers. The clove scent is great at masking bad breath. If you have a cavity, placing clove oil on a cotton ball and placing on the affected tooth can help. Gargling with coconut and clove oil can treat conditions of the throat. Just be careful to dilute the oil, as it is very potent and spicy.

So, how does oil pulling work? The idea is that the oil absorbs fat-soluble microbes and other toxins from inside the mouth. After swishing 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil mixed with 3-5 drops essential oil around in your mouth for 5-20 minutes, you spit it out. (Use the trash can to avoid problems with the drain.) And that’s it! This practice is best done in the morning, every day, before you do anything else. Oil pulling is refreshingly simple with countless benefits. Try it out and see how better dental health complements well-being.


Emily Bowles is a Yoga Alliance certified Hatha yoga instructor—currently living and teaching in Northern California. She is a Reiki level II practitioner and essential oil wellness advocate, engaged in daily healing and self-liberation. She is about to release her first children’s book, and currently studying pre-med sciences to become a naturopathic physician. Emily maintains a personal piyo, core power, and yin yoga practice, believing that all things are possible—yoga being the dance, the lifestyle, and the vehicle that bridges us closer together, to our higher selves, and to home. She wants to remind you that you must never give up. Your dreams are alive within, waiting on you to manifest the courage and make them real. Her website link: Queenbeeapiary.com ॐ

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