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It’s a new edition of Try It Tuesday and this week I tried oil pulling. Well, the past four weeks I’ve been trying oil pulling. Have you ever heard of it? Ever tried it? Want to try it? Keep reading to see what oil pulling is all about and what kind of results I got!
What is oil pulling?
Oil pulling is the act of swishing around oil in your mouth to improve dental health. From the research I’ve done, there isn’t any solid evidence as to the effectiveness of oil pulling, but many sources indicate oil pulling has the following effects, among others:
- Whiter teeth
- Healthier gums
- Less dental sensitivity
- Fresher breath
- Cures tooth decay
- Reduces plaque
- Improves skin
- Helps with headaches
It’s believed that oil pulling literally pulls the toxins from your mouth, teeth and body, creating a healthier mouth and healthier you. Okay, so how true is all of this? I have no idea, but I thought I’d give it a go.
The process of oil pulling is really simple. You swish a tablespoon of oil around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes, spit it out, rinse with water (or salt water), and brush your teeth as usual.
I’ve read you can use just about any type of oil, and have seen instances of vegetable oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil and sesame oil being used. I’m not sure if it really matters which oil you use, but I chose to go with coconut oil just in case I happen to swallow a little.
You’re not supposed to swallow any of it because you’d be swallowing the toxins you’re trying to get rid of, but if I happened to swallow some by accident I didn’t want it to be something like vegetable or olive oil. Yuck! I’m gagging just thinking about swallowing those.
I also chose coconut oil because of it’s known healing properties. I have been having really bad tooth sensitivity the past few months and would try anything to get rid of it. I would have gone to the dentist by now to get checked for cavities, but I don’t have dental insurance, so a home remedy it is.
The brand I used was Kala Coconut Oil from Kala Oils. I had this on hand from an Ecocentric Mom box that I had previously gotten and hadn’t used it yet, so I figured why not. It was a way for me to put it to good use!
The exact process I followed was a tablespoon of coconut oil once a day, for 10 minutes, for four weeks (minus a few days because life happens).
Right away I could tell a difference in how my mouth felt. Throughout the day, and even after eating, my teeth and mouth just felt cleaner and fresher than usual. And you know how sometimes you might wake up with a nasty taste in your mouth. That was completely gone.
As for my tooth sensitivity, I think oil pulling has helped a little, but the sensitivity hasn’t completely subsided. I’m thinking there’s a good chance I already have enough damage to the sensitive area, that nothing can help but maybe a cavity filling. I’m also starting to wonder if maybe one of my fillings has fallen out. So, looks like I’ll be paying for a dentist’s visit sometime soon after all.
As far as whitening my teeth, there’s been some subtle lightening. It’s hard to get great photos of my teeth with the same type of lighting to ensure I’m showing actual results, but I did the best I could. So take a look at day 1 and day 28.
I can’t really say how many shades lighter my teeth are, but I can personally see a difference when I look in the mirror. Nothing drastic, but a difference nonetheless, so I’ll take it.
So is it worth the effort? I say yes if you’re looking for better general dental health. I like how my mouth and teeth feel compared to before and that’s good enough for me. But I don’t think it’s necessary to practice oil pulling every day. I’ll continue to practice it, but maybe just twice a week or so. For tooth sensitivity relief I’ll have to look elsewhere, and for whitening I think oil pulling longer term will offer better results, but I have plans to try some other things too.
Tips & Suggestions
If you’re going to try oil pulling, I’ve come up with a few do’s and don’ts. I’m sure if you go at it alone, you’ll come to the same conclusions.
Start small – If you feel like a tablespoon is too much, start with a teaspoon and test it out. You don’t have to jump right in. You also don’t have to start at 10 or 20 minutes, but try 5 minutes instead.
Do not use hardened coconut oil – If using coconut oil, you don’t want to start with it’s hardened form. Do something to melt it to liquid before putting it in your mouth. The oil would eventually melt in your mouth from the warmth, but it takes longer than you’d probably like and when measuring a tablespoon of hardened coconut oil, once it melts you’ll end up with more in your mouth than you bargained for.
Do not swish aggressively – There’s no need to swish the oil aggressively like mouthwash. It will tire you out. Just occasionally swish it through your teeth.
Do not swallow the oil – It’s really hard to hold and swish around a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes without swallowing. The tablespoon doubles in size as time passes, supposedly from the toxins it’s pulling and also the saliva that collects in your mouth. There were times I just had to swallow and suggest pushing all of the oil to the front of your teeth so you can swallow lightly without taking in too much of the oil and toxins.
Practice oil pulling while occupied – Let’s be real. When you are holding something in your mouth for 10 minutes, those can be the longest 10 minutes of your life. I suggest practicing oil pulling when you are occupied with something. My favorite time to do it is in the shower. From the time I jumped in, bathed and got out and dressed, it was right at or just past 10 minutes. You could also do it while folding laundry, loading the dishwasher, anything that keeps your mind occupied on something else.
Spit the oil in the trash – Whatever you do, always spit the oil out in the trash. Don’t spit it down the sink, especially if you’re using coconut oil because it will harden as soon as it cools off. I’m sure the last thing you want is a clogged drain to deal with.
And not really a tip or suggestion, but hope that a sneeze or yawn doesn’t come along because if you can’t stop it, you’re going to end up with oil everywhere. Trust me. I know from experience.