Awareness is on the rise about leading a healthy lifestyle. With an increased dialogue on healthy lifestyle choices in recent times, people's inquisitiveness to learn about sustainable health practices has also significantly increased. Since time immemorial, yoga and Ayurveda have been practices that have together contributed to better overall health. The institutionalization of the World Yoga Day was another step in this direction since it was done with the aim to promote mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing.
An important and sometimes ignored part of overall health is oral health. Oral diseases are one of the most severe problems in public health and are currently on the rise. Most of the oral diseases are caused due to the bacterial infections. The oral cavity is constantly exposed to many risk factors in our day-to-day life. Endogenous toxins (āmavisha) and exogenous toxins (garavisha) enter the body through contaminated foods-drinks-air, junk food and addictions like smoking, alcohol intake, soft drinks, irregular food habits, mental stress etc. Gradually they result in an accumulation of toxins in the oral cavity and cause bacterial invasion leading to bad oral hygiene and impacting overall health. Hence for good overall health it is very important to remove such toxins from the mouth and maintain good oral hygiene.
Oral Hygiene and Ayurveda
Ayurveda involves a holistic view of man, his health and illness. Oral hygiene is not described as a separate chapter in Ayurveda but it comes under the different chapters of Ayurvedic literature. Problems such as deformities of the oral cavity, plaques and infections were managed in ancient India through ayurvedic practices.
Gandusha and Kavala graha are two primary oral cleansing techniques that can help prevent oral diseases. The difference between the two is only in the dosage and procedure of using the oil. Gandusha is filling the mouth with oil and holding it without moving it inside the oral cavity for about 15-20 minutes. In Kavala graha, the mouth is only three-fourths filled with oil (8-10mL) and the oil is then swished in the mouth for 2-3 minutes and then spat out. In modern day, these techniques are referred to as ‘Oil Pulling’.
These practices are ancient oral ‘kriyas’ or practices recommended in Ayurvedic scriptures as an essential part of daily health rituals or ‘Dincharya’. The antioxidant rich oils used in ‘Oil Pulling’ help clean the mouth cavity by soaking up or “pulling” disease-causing bacteria and their toxins out from around the teeth and gums. Just as yoga helps cleanse the mind for a healthier body, ‘Oil Pulling’ helps remove germs for better oral health.