Swish, Don't Swallow: Oil Pulling for Beginners


Swish, Don't Swallow: Oil Pulling for Beginners

Promising multiple benefits to your oral health and beyond, this daily Ayurvedic ritual is worth your time.

Lauren McCurry


0 minute read

Published: August 2022

Origin: Australia

Fact: Oils Rule Everything Around Me (and My Self Care Routine).

So much so, there is barely a domestic pleasure practice I routinely indulge in that doesn’t get oily.

My days are bookended by oil. In the morning, I awaken my tired face with a gentle oil cleanse and a warm face cloth, comfortably reminiscent of the hot towels they used to offer you on long-haul flights.

Post shower, I massage handfuls of botanically-spiked oils across my body with an ambition to emerge from the bathroom like a glistening steamed wonton.

Before I sit down at my desk and gaze down the barrel of unopened emails – a few drops of CBD oil lingers momentarily under my tongue.

When I blend my AM sustenance into the form of a pinkish smoothie – a capful of flax oil included for my awkwardly clicky joints.

When I imbibe my comically-large daily buffet of vitamins, minerals, and–of course–antidepressants; a soft gelatin capsule of vegan omega is included in the mix.

My lunch salad is splashed (read: saturated!) with avocado oil, and my evening skincare routine commences with another face-oil cleanse; massaging away the remnants of my attempt at the Julia Fox eye with vigour.

Once a week, I apply drops of Argan Oil to my bleach-deranged tresses and castor oil to cheerlead the growth of my eyelashes and brows.

Countless times daily I massage almond oil into my nerve-ravaged cuticles. 


Like I said, I like it oily.

So, when my friend Claudia recently mentioned to me that she made time for a morning ‘oil pull,’ my attention was quite literally piqued. 


“Basically,” she explained, “You swish a bunch of oil around your mouth and in between your teeth for a handful of minutes, then spit it out. It pulls out all the gross stuff.”

Messy, yet inviting – I thought. 


Two minutes and a few browser tab-clicks later, this ritual was confirmed to be in my very near future. 

Also called Kavala or Gundusha, this Ayurvedic practice has been cited by holistic practitioners for centuries to improve gut flora and reduce intestinal diseases.

Others say this ritual has the potential to eliminate bacteria in plaque, which can strengthen teeth, gums, and the jaw while also preventing tooth decay, dry throat, and cracked lips.

Further benefits like whitened teeth, vocal clarity, and sensory enhancement have also been applauded by wellness punters and experts alike.

Either way, Claudia has one of the most mega megawatt smiles I have ever seen, so I was absolutely willing to try.


Like most holistic therapies born outside the Western medical plane, there is little evidence or scientific research that can attest to these claims, so my report on its efficacy is primarily anecdotal.

What I will say is that this ritual for me is time well spent. Here’s how I went about it.

Choose your oil

"Coconut, sunflower, sesame, palm, and even olive oil are cited as your best options.

I went with these because it was aptly scented with peppermint oil–and the brand funds the removal of plastic waste from landfills!"

Find a window


After researching a little online (my #1 hobby,) I decided to perform this ritual as soon as I got up in the morning; pre-coffee and existential dread.

That way, all the toxins that had accumulated atop my mouth’s resident microbiome overnight would be kindly escorted into the bin.

Master your technique


The practice itself is a delicate dance of both deep satisfaction and fear of gagging, so I suggest starting small (a few teaspoons swilled for five minutes) before promoting your mouth to the suggested half-a-mouthful for 15-20 minutes.

I found it a wonderful time to wander around the quiet house watering my plants while plugged into a podcast. What I loved the most about the process was the gratifying emission of the oil once my time was up (into a cup and the bin – no oil down the drain please!) 


After two weeks, my teeth are whiter, my mouth feels shinier and I’ve only accidentally spat out the oil once or twice (nobody saw!)


 What my dentist thinks of this new ritual… well, I'll get back to you after my appointment next month.

Lauren McCurry



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