Ancient Swishing Secrets: Oral Oil Pulling

By Nadine Armetis, Guest Blogger for the BodyMind Institute

We roam drug store dental aisles perusing a plethora of periodontal promises ranging from fluoride floss to menthol mouthwash. Searching for solutions, we attain countless tubes of gels and paste, we maintain the ingrained hygienist and dentist appointments, and we brush with daily-diligence for decades; yet the possibility of periodontal disease percolates. Receding, bleeding gums are the norm; unexpected cavities form and millions of root canals are performed. The definition of insanity, doing the same thing and expecting different results, applies to our current state of oral care.

Enter ancient techniques and botanical extracts for oral swishing. When we swish our saliva with soothing serums of botanical extracts rich in phytonutrients known for their anti-inflammatory, lipid-soluble, lymph-stimulating nature that nurtures, the very thin skin of the oral epithelium gums can heal and seal, and teeth can gleam white and bright.

Oil swishing, otherwise known as oil pulling, is an ancient Ayurvedic medicinal practice used to detoxify the mouth, teeth, gums, and the entire oral cavity. Although this practice has been used throughout the ages, it has only recently begun to gain traction in the Western world. Scientists, holistic practitioners, and dentists are singing the praises of oil swishing and its ability to draw toxins from the mouth and flush them from the body.

A Quick Swish Through Time

From ancient Egypt to ancient India, archaeologists have found the remains of human beings with beautiful, strong, perfectly intact teeth . . . long before fluorinated toothpastes and bristled toothbrushes were invented.

Ancient peoples did not use synthetic commercial toothpastes and alcohol-based mouthwashes. They used natural means to keep teeth and gums healthy, including teeth picking and oil pulling. The oil pulling process involves swishing in the mouth about a tablespoon of oil for 15 minutes. Oil swishing draws toxins and tartar from the oral cavity and between the teeth. It facilitates the flow of tooth and tongue-bathing saliva, and balances the pH in the mouth. The warm, liquefied oil dissolves and traps food and tartar on the teeth and “brushes” your teeth as you swish.

Strategic Swishing

To date, ten studies have been conducted on oil swishing and its impact on halitosis, dry mouth, gingivitis, tartar control, and gum tissue regeneration. Researchers concluded that oil swishing may: 

  • eliminate the bacteria that causes cavities 
  • ease bad breath 
  • prevent pathogenic bacteria from building tartar 
  • inhibit tooth decay  
  • heal gingivitis and bleeding gums

Ideally you want to swish with pure coconut oil or coconut MCT oil. Coconut oil contains an abundance of fatty acids that are anti-bacterial, promote gut health, fight free radicals, and regulate healthy bacteria. Most organic coconut oil contains some medium chain triglycerides, or MCTs. MCT oil can be separated from the rest of the coconut oil compounds and used to swish. It concentrates all the beneficial compounds of coconut oil into less volume. It takes about 20 tablespoons of ordinary coconut oil to get one tablespoon of a coconut oil based MCT oil. And unlike coconut oil that becomes solid below room temperature, MCT oil remains a liquid at any temperature.

When selecting an MCT oil or coconut oil for oil swishing, look for signs of potency and purity. Many coconut oils are refined and heavily processed, which can leave behind solvents and oxidized fat. Choose unrefined, organic oil that is steam-distilled to preserve purity. Also look for a nutraceutical quality MCT to find the purest oil with the longest shelf life. Read the labels and choose one with the highest amounts of C6 (Caproic), C8 (Caprylic), and C10 (Capric) fatty acids.

Botanical Boosters

Coconut or MCT oil is a great swisher alone, and if you want to pump up the potential (and the pleasure), consider mixing in a few optimizers to your morning swish.

  • Essential oils are the mouth's best friend. They are gently anti-microbial and anti-plaque, both of which cause tooth decay, bad breath, and gum disease. Seabuckthorn, frankincense, peppermint, tea tree essential oils are great swishing essential oils. Or you could use a pre-mixed essential oil dental serum, such as Yogi Tooth Serum or Happy Gum Drops. All it takes is a few drops.
  • When added to swishing oil, probiotic powder can replenish the diversity of healthy bacteria in the mouth so that the oral ecology stays balanced and healthy.
  • Activated charcoal can help remove stains (like coffee and tea stains) from tooth enamel. Use it carefully because it may stain other surfaces – clothing, towels, and porous sinks.
  • Adding vitamins to swishing oil helps take tissue-healing nutrients right where they are needed most – gum pockets, between the teeth, and wounds. Vitamins D, C, and E are especially beneficial.

Oil Swishing How To

It is best to oil swish first thing in the morning before you eat, drink or brush your teeth.

  • Measure about 20 drops of oil and 2 drops of an essential oil and swish in your mouth. 
  • Swish without swallowing for up to 15 minutes. 
  • Spit. If you swish with coconut oil it may solidify in cold water and clog your pipes, so spit it in a trash bin. 
  • Follow your regular routine, including your Successful Self Dentistry steps.

DIY Tooth Butter Cups

These prep-ahead butter cups make morning swishing a breeze. This recipe makes about 4 single serving cups that store endlessly in the fridge or freezer.

60ml/2oz coconut oil
6 capsules of probiotics
2 teaspoons baking soda
15 drops of an organic essential oil: Peppermint, Frankincense, Rose, Cinnamon, Seabuckthorn, Clove, Happy Gums Drops, or Yogi Tooth Serum.
Optional: 2 teaspoons clay or activated charcoal

Gently warm the coconut oil until it becomes a soft enough to stir. Add the probiotics, baking soda, and essential oils, and the clay or charcoal if desired. Drop them into tablespoon sized balls or molds and refrigerate until hardened. To use, pop one butter cup in your mouth and let it melt, then swish vigorously for 10 minutes and spit.

Botanical Swishing Serums

If you prefer expertly prepared products to swish with, we have created two beautiful swishing serums with organic, nutraceutical MCT oil to make your oil swishing practice effortless and efficient.

Happy Gum Drops + Oil Swishing Serum is spicy and warmed with cinnamon. Mint + Myrrh Oil Swishing Serum, featuring mouth-loving myrrh, is the perfect partner for those who are sensitive to cinnamon. Both serums overflow with time-treasured and scientifically measured botanical-biotics to bolster the balance of your mouth’s microbiome, protect your teeth, and freshen your breath.

Nadine Artemis

Nadine Artemis is the creator of Living Libations, an exquisite line of serums, elixirs and essential oils for those seeking the purest botanical health and beauty products on the planet. She is a frequent commentator on health and beauty for media outlets, and her products have received rave reviews in The New York Times, The National Post and The Hollywood Reporter. Described by Alanis Morissette as “a true-sense visionary,” Nadine has amassed a stunning collection of rare and special botanical extracts. An innovative aromacologist, Nadine develops immune enhancing formulas and medicinal blends for health and wellness: her potent dental drops are used worldwide and provide the purest oral care available. Drawing on her unique ability to depict scent as living colour, known as the gift of synesthesia, Nadine taps into the purest plant essences to create truly sublime botanical compounds. Her creations, along with her concept of “Renegade Beauty,” encourage effortlessness, eschew regimes, and inspire people to rethink conventional notions of beauty. Nadine’s new paradigm for beauty and her natural approach to health presents a revolutionary vision: it allows the life-force of flowers, dewdrops, plants, sun and water to be the ingredients of healthy living and lets everything unessential, contrived and artificial fall away. www.livinglibations.com