I tried actor Anushka Sharma’s oil pulling regimen for a year
10/10 would recommend it to a friend
Ever since actor Anushka Sharma posted about oil pulling on her Instagram, there’s been a big buzz around this age-old technique. Backed by ayurveda, various studies have shown that oil pulling is great for overall oral hygiene. It’s a very simple method that involves swishing oil in your mouth–first thing in the morning–for about 20 minutes, and then spitting it out. The oil draws fat-soluble toxins from the body and destroys bacteria. It also strengthens gums, dissolves plaque and reduces the chances of cavities and inflammation.
Dr Jyotsana Makker, ayurvedic expert at Kama Ayurveda, recommends, “Beginners can use sesame oil for pulling as it has a neutral taste and is believed to be the best vata pacifying oil in ayurveda.” It is believed to be tridoshic (helps to balance all the doshas) and is a way better option for novices who lack a strong gag reflex. The pros also use coconut oil for its antioxidant and anti-bacterial powers. With oil pulling, don’t expect an instant result and Dr Makker says, “Continue practicing for at least 10 minutes for 15 days to see benefits.”
Oil pulling isn’t a very pleasant feeling, but I decided to give in with the hope to whiten my teeth. On day one, swishing just half a teaspoon of coconut oil felt icky and uncomfortable, even for a coconut lover like me. I gave up within 10 minutes because the oil doubled up in quantity, which I was NOT expecting. I followed it up with my usual brushing and didn’t really notice a difference. I picked coconut oil simply because it is higher in lauric acid which is also known to heal skin (and good for weak gums and sores). I use a cold-pressed coconut variant from Rajkamal Oil Mills in Mumbai.
It only got better because I knew what to expect the next time. Within a week, my teeth didn’t look dramatically different but there were no incidents of bleeding gums or sores.
Spending 20 minutes swishing oil in my mouth also doubled up as an everyday self-care session for me, where for a while, I could purse my lips and ignore all questions directed at me (sorry mom!). I created an entire morning routine around it: it started with with oil pulling, took a shower, (while swishing oil, obvs), put on a honey face mask and washed it off. Then, I spit out the oil in the garbage bin (you don’t want your sink clogged up), rinsed with warm water (to get rid of residual oil) and went about brushing my teeth. What I learnt: Always melt coconut oil before pulling because trust me, chewing chunks of oil isn’t a pleasant experience.
A year later, my dentist has been quite happy with my oral health, and I’ve even come to find this practice very relaxing. It makes me feel like I’m making some time for myself every day versus a once in a while Sunday self-care session.
Coconut oils you can try:
Tengin Virgin Coconut Oil, INR 330
Cureveda Sparkle: Oil Pulling, INR 795
Organic India Virgin Coconut Oil, INR 725
Onelife Organic Coconut Oil, INR 680
Photograph: Prasad Naik