A new health fad is spreading around the internet. It’s not your typical diet and exercise kind of health, but rather health for your mouth.
I found out about oil pulling about two weeks ago when I was browsing Pinterest. I see weird health remedies and teeth whitening ideas on Pinterest all the time that I contemplate trying out. Example: Using baking soda & hydrogen peroxide for teeth whitening. The difference is that I actually tried Oil Pulling, and have committed to it! To be fair, I did go out and buy baking soda and hydrogen peroxide with the full intent of trying that method. But it seems pretty crazy to put an item in my mouth that bubbles and feels like it’s burning my skin off when pouring it on my scrapes (yes, I was child then, but I still remember it vividly). Needless to say, I couldn’t talk myself into it. Oil is actually used for cooking food, which goes in my mouth. Plus it has no taste, so it wasn’t as scary.
I’m always looking for an effective, cheaper method of teeth whitening besides the $35 Crest Teeth Whitening Strips, and anything that may have added oral health benefits such as reducing cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease is a winner in my book. Here’s how Oil Pulling works:
Step 1: Take a generous spoonful (tablespoon if you want to get technical) of oil and put it in your mouth. I was nervous the first time I tried it and only used a teaspoon and didn’t really notice a change in the smoothness or cleanliness of my teeth afterwards. So don’t be scared, go for it and pile the oil on that spoon. You can use sesame, olive, or coconut oil. I chose solid coconut oil because it’s white, and in my weird head that made sense for the teeth whitening purpose and I thought it would have a better flavor. To be honest, it has no flavor. The texture starts off like candle wax, but melts very quickly in your mouth. And if you are storing in a cabinet or pantry (which you should be) beforehand, it’s nice and cool when you first put it in your mouth. So the first step is pretty easy.
Step 2: Swish it around for 20 minutes. I won’t lie, this is tough. One, because my mouth produces saliva quickly so 20 minutes is a long time for me not to swallow. Also, swishing for 20 minutes is annoying. Teeth whitening strips just sit there and you almost forget about them. I guess it’s good you can’t forget about the oil though, because from what I’ve read, if you swish for longer than 20 minutes, the nasty mouth bacteria and toxins that you’re swishing away start getting re-absorbed into the mouth.
Step 3: Spit and rinse. First and foremost, don’t swallow it. Spit it out. Most people say don’t spit it back into the sink because it will re-solidify and clog your pipes. With the amount of saliva and oil I have in my mouth after 20 minutes, I’m not spitting that into the trash can. If you live in an apartment, maybe spit it into the toilet and flush it? That’s how I’m doing it.
Now for rinsing and brushing. Rinsing: Some people mention rinsing with warm salt water or lemon water after. Salt water gargling is said to have benefits such as soothing sore throats and helping flush out irritants or bacteria, so in my opinion, oil pulling and rinsing with salt water after is like double the effect. Brushing: If you read multiple articles about oil pulling, you’ll see some people have replaced brushing and flossing with pulling. I’m not a hippie (no offense) so I’m not trusting that just swishing oil around in my mouth daily is the only necessary method for cleaning teeth and gums. Therefore, I oil pull in the morning, rinse, and then do a quick brush afterwards.
I’m not a holistic medicine kind of person; I’m not a hipster; I’m not a doctor. Besides the teeth whitening, breath freshening, and bacteria removal, there are articles that suggest a variety of other benefits. There is no scientific data to support the curing of acne, insomnia, hangovers, or any of that other stuff. I am only here to attest to the oral benefits. I have only been doing this for a week, but what I can say is this: While my teeth don’t necessarily feel as smooth afterwards as when I brush, my mouth feels cleaner and fresher than when I brush. I can’t really explain it, but it’s like my mouth feels lighter after pulling. In addition, besides white strips being expensive, sometimes my teeth feel more fragile and sensitive after using them. I do not feel this way at all after oil pulling for a week, and my teeth are noticeably whiter. It doesn’t happen instantly, but if you start, keep it up and you’ll notice a difference.
My favorite article to explain the benefits of oil pulling as well as the fallacy that it is a magic cure-all treatment is here. As Dr. Sanda Moldovan states: “Oil pulling is not magic…Oil pulling is just one of a couple of ways to super duper clean your mouth so that your body can focus on healing other stuff and feel better.”