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April 10, 2014

Adventures in Oil Pulling

oil pulling[image via Free People]

Up until a few weeks ago I had never even heard of oil pulling. Then one day HuffPo ran a story about that ritual and my inbox and social streams flooded with inquiring minds. Even my mother, a dental hygienist, started fielding questions from patients. What sounded to me like something akin to water boarding or an enema (had to be said) turned out to be an Ayurvedic approach to oral health, with the added yet scientifically unsubstantiated benefits of preventing disease, relieving a hangover and detoxifying the body. All music to my ears. Except for the actual act, which requires swishing coconut, olive or sunflower oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes. Yup. Gwyneth does it while she packs gluten-free lunches for Apple and Moses.

oil pulling bets

I decided to give it a whirl while I worked. The key is to find a distraction, because once you start swishing it’s game on. The oil became foamy in my mouth after a few minutes, making it too easy to swallow—the last thing you want to do if, in fact, there are a bunch of toxins swirling around in there. I made it the full 20 minutes, then spit out the milky mess in glass. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but nothing really happened. I didn’t feel any different. My teeth didn’t look and different. I still needed to floss. Which brings me to the underscore of this story: Oil pulling doesn’t replace brushing and flossing. It’s a supplemental thing. And if I had more time and patience (or a personal chef and body double) I’d give it a month. Nothing holistic happens over night. I will, however, give it another go next time I have a hangover.

Have you tried oil pulling? Anxious to hear about your experience!


  • Elizabeth Dehn
    Born and raised in Minnesota by surprisingly low-maintenance parents, beauty writer and lifestyle editor Elizabeth Dehn (aka Bets) spent her awkward years buying Mood lipstick and whipping up DIY face masks before founding Beauty Bets in 2009.
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