Thursday, 4 April 2013


Isn't it interesting how something will suddenly come into fashion and then, just as suddenly, fade away and you wonder what that was all about? Then something else, that is tried and true, gets bumped out of your life by a new gadget.

Oil pulling is having a revival this year. Either you've never heard of it or you do it.  I've been practicing oil pulling for about two years - not every day now but at least once a week as it fits into my routine. I mentioned it to my dentist once but he'd never heard of it. 'I can't see that it would hurt you,' he said, a little doubtfully.  So, oil pulling has to do with teeth - with cleaning the teeth, and the mouth and it works. 
Oil pulling is a traditional Indian folk remedy - thousands of years old, older than toothbrushes and toothpaste - and it involves swishing oil around the mouth, pulling and pushing it over and between the teeth gently, to remove the bad bacteria, to reduce plaque, to prevent inflamed gums (gingivitis) and reduce bad breath (halitosis). All this is good news for our mouths.

The best oils to use are light in flavour, sesame and sunflower are good. One day I was out of sesame oil (my favourite) and took a gulp of the delicious organic olive oil I cook with everyday and erk... too strong, too thick, gave me a sore throat and I coughed it all out.
Sesame oil
Coconut oil is gaining popularity for many uses - to soften skin and hair, to relieve itches and insect bites, to prevent dementia, to cook very tasty eggs and to cook lots of other yummy food. In fact it tastes so good you wonder how it can possibly be good for you. 
Cold pressed coconut oil
So, I tried coconut oil to clean my teeth. I found that it is not quite as effective as olive oil. Coconut oil is lighter in texture and does not foam the same way as olive oil and there is a temptation to swallow it. In fact I swallowed most of what I had in my mouth before I realised. As the idea is to spit out the used oil this is not good.  When I had finished my mouth did not feel as clean so I brushed with a tooth brush and water. My teeth felt good but the coconut oil had not cleaned the rest of my mouth as well as olive oil. This is possibly because the coconut oil becomes watery and does form an oily foam.  I'm sure this might suit some people so try it, but also try another oil so you can compare. 
If the coconut oil is in solid form you just hold it in your mouth, gently chewing, until it liquefies.

The procedure:
First thing in the morning, before rinsing your mouth or drinking or eating anything - take one or two teaspoons of light oil, hold it in your mouth and slowly begin swishing it around your teeth, pulling it between your teeth, over the tongue, inside the lips and cheeks. It's just a gentle motion to keep the oil moving in and out of every nook and cranny, like a mouth wash. The oil will pick up and hold any impurities.

Swish for 15 - 20 minutes - have a shower or choose your clothes for the day, make the bed or go for a short walk. The action of the mouth will be exercising your jaw and cheek muscles too. The idea is to swish until the oil has mixed with saliva to become a white frothy mixture with a yellow stain.

Spit it all out. Do not swallow. I was advised by a wise old Indian to not spit it onto the ground where it will soak get into the soil, or an animal could find it, because it is contaminated - so spit into a wad of toilet paper and flush away.

Rinse your mouth with water, swish and spit again. You can brush with a toothbrush, but no tooth paste, water alone is enough. 

You'll find you not only have squeaky clean teeth, but also a clean tongue and mouth.  And that is oil pulling.

Now you may start your day.

I wonder if my dentist went home and tried it. 

Count the garden by the flowers, never by the leaves that fall. 
Count your life by smiles and not the tears that roll.


There is a comments facility below for your comments or encouragement - but it's not like facebook, there is a process to keep the spammers and hackers out.  

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  1. from Jennifer - How very interesting

  2. from Dee - I've never been brave enough to try it.

  3. from Wendy J - Wow, fascinating ... oil is def the new cleanser

  4. I tried it and exactly as you said I now have a very clean mouth. I will get some better oil though as you also said the olive oil is a little strong. Thanks for the tip. MP

  5. Youve talked me into it. I'll try tomorrow. Stef

  6. I looked it up and it a very old custom from India from when there were not toothbrushes. There is no reason why it would not work on teeth now and it would avoid making ridges on the teeth with stiff brushes. I asked a dentist friend if it would make the filling fall our and he said he couldnt see that it would but don't do it everyday, just a couple of days a week. That sounds like good advice to me. S


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