By Glynda Cullen, LMT, LE

This month’s wellness topic is oral health; you may find it interesting that a Massage Therapist (and Esthetician) is writing this article. What could I add to this conversation, you ask? Good question!

My answer: massage of the gums (similar to full body massage), stimulates circulation allowing your immune system to fight infections that may start in the mouth.

Last week, Cathy Logan wrote about oil pulling (using pure oil to pull bacteria from the mouth versus using mouthwash). I recommend adding Ayurvedic gum massage with warm oil (from oil-pulling) to your oral care routine.

Benefits of gum massage with natural oil

Ayurvedic gum massage, with warm sesame oil, is a natural, effective alternative to antibacterial mouthwash. Did you know, OTC antibacterial rinses can create potentially resistant strains of bacteria in your mouth, and it can kill helpful probiotics that live there, too?

Conversely, the benefits of natural gum massage (and oil pulling) are pretty amazing:

  • Helps prevent gum disease
  • Reduces plaque build-up
  • Decreases inflammation of the gums
  • Minimizes risk of mouth bacteria traveling to rest of your body!

Researchers believe the massaging and rinsing of the warm oil reduces bacteria’s ability to adhere to teeth and gums.

Traditionally, warm sesame oil is preferred because of the decrease in inflammation of the gums noted during research studies. You can also use coconut (thank goodness, I love coconut oil!) or olive oil (which receives only slightly less praise by researchers).

DIY: Oil massage for gums

Follow the directions Cathy provided for oil pulling (but don’t rinse immediately); or, simply gargle with 1 to 2 teaspoons of sesame, coconut or olive oil for 10 to 20 minutes. Then, expel the oil into the trash can.

Let a layer of oil remain in your mouth and begin the massage:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. With your thumb and forefinger, use bilateral pinching to make firm, circular motions on all areas of your gums (from the back to the front of your mouth).
  3. Keep massaging for 5 minutes. Be mindful to stimulate and circulate the healing oil, flushing the tissues.
  4. Do a quick rinse with water.

That’s it! So easy and healing. Smile, knowing you’re healthy and beautiful from the inside out thanks to Ayurveda!

Check out the research of Case Adams, a California Naturopath, for the details of the studies I referenced.


Glynda is a licensed Massage Therapist and a licensed Esthetician. She offers therapeutic massage and facial treatments (and after-hours appointments).