Oil Pulling 101 (How To Safely Do It)

olive oil in bowl

If you’re thinking about starting to use oil pulling methods at home for the oral health benefits, one of the things you want to do is make sure you’re doing it correctly.

Disclaimer: I’m a big advocate of scientific research. It’s data and studies that back what we in dentistry recommend to our patients.

However, to date, there are no ADA recommendations to show oil pulling benefits. That being said, if you think it works and we don’t have anything to say it’s bad for you, then, by all means, try it!

Use Quality Oil

The first step when you’re learning how to oil pull is to choose the best type of oil. After all, you’re putting it inside of your mouth!

Most advocates of oil pulling recommend a quality oil like sesame oil or sunflower oil.[1] Some people also like to use coconut oil. You can pick most of these up at the grocery store or health food center.

The darker the container is, the more stability of the ingredients inside.

Dosing And Time Requirements

Adults will want to use about 1-2 teaspoons (a “sip” if you’re measuring it the fast way.)

Now comes the hard part. For full oil pulling benefits, “they” say to swish for at least 10-20 minutes. How to oil pull is just like rinsing with mouthwash, only way longer. 

Side note: oil pulling benefits might be pointless if you give yourself TMJ disorder from rinsing so long. Do so at your own discretion and risk!

Do Not Swallow The Oil!

When you’re learning how to oil pull, you may find that it’s easy to accidentally swallow the oil.

Don’t.

In fact, some people may find that they accidentally inhale the oil, which can do big damage to your lungs.

There are actually medical cases that have been shown to cause “lipid pneumonia” from oil pulling! Benefits, whatever they are, aren’t worth the risks of getting a respiratory infection.

Just be careful. If you’re gnarling or rinsing vigorously, this is one important precaution you need to be sure to take.

Don't Spit In The Sink!

You’ve probably rinsed your mouth thousands of times over the past year, be it with water or mouthwash.

What do you instinctively do? Spit it out in the sink. 

But do not — under any circumstances — spit the oil out in the sink after oil pulling. I come from a family of plumbers and trust me when I say this is a surefire way to get your pipes clogged. You just don’t want to do it.

Instead, spit the oil out in a tissue or cup, and then toss it in the trash.

Rinse With Water

After you’re through oil pulling, rinse thoroughly with water to get rid of the filmy coating across your gums and teeth. Some self-proclaimed experts say to rinse with salt water. 

Rinse for about 10-15 seconds or until it feels like you’ve removed most of the oil.

Clean Your Tongue

Grab a tongue scraper. Your tongue is covered in hundreds of tiny papilla, which make the perfect surface for oil and sticky buildup to adhere to.

All that sticky gunk can translate into halitosis (aka bad breath) a few hours later.

Run your tongue scraper from the back of your tongue towards the tip. Rinse away any visible debris, then repeat the process until your entire tongue has been cleaned.

Now You Know!

Look, we’re going to treat oil pulling benefits and how to oil pull like sex ed. If you’re going to do it, at least do it safely.

For now, there just isn’t the scientific research out there to back up that it’s beneficial. But hey, I’m open-minded and if my patient tells me that oil pulling has helped them, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try (well, at least until the ADA comes out with scientific data to say that it does.)

So, if you’re going to oil pull, remember to use quality oil, rinse with 1-2 teaspoons for 10 to 20 minutes, don’t swallow the oil (or spit it in the sink,) rinse your mouth after, and clean off your tongue.

Hopefully, with all of the interest in oil pulling benefits, researchers with the ADA will have some real-life data and answers for us in the near future. But for now, if you’re going to oil pull, just be sure to take precautions that you’re doing it safely.

 Up for a bit of entertainment? Here’s a video of me oil pulling for the very first time!

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