We can imagine cooking with coconut oil or even applying it to our skin as a moisturizer. How about for oral hygiene? Many have begun using coconut oil as a mouthwash—which is believed to help draw out toxins from your body. Although oil pulling has been in existence for 3,000 years, this practice has resurfaced, experiencing new life among health enthusiasts.
What is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is not anything remotely close to pulling teeth. In fact, oil pulling is a painless practice that offers extensive oral health benefits. This ancient oral hygiene technique dates back to Indian Ayurvedic texts written around 800 B.C. Coconut oil, as opposed to other oils, is used due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and mild abrasive effects.
How Do You Swish?
Start small. Swishing one teaspoon of organic, virgin coconut oil in your mouth for five minutes a day is a good way to get used to the flavor (which users claim is not that bad for an oil) and texture of the coconut oil. Coconut oil only remains in its liquid form at 75 degrees and higher, so even if it’s solid, it’ll transform to liquid form in your mouth.
Eventually, over a period of a few days, begin to increase the amount and swish one tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 20-30 minutes to detoxify—or remove bacteria.
After the allotted half hour, spit the oil out into the garbage (you don’t want to clog your drain).
wishing for seven days or more has the most optimum oral health effects, over the course of a few months.
How Does Oil Pulling Work?
Oil pulling decreases the bacteria in your mouth to help against “gingivitis, plaque, and microorganisms that cause bad breath.”
How exactly? Recent studies claim the cells in the mouth “consist of a single cell”; and these “cells are covered with a lipid, or fatty, membrane, which is the cell's skin. When you spit out the oil, the bacteria goes out with it.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Coconut oil can produce side effects if the wrong technique is used, “including dry mouth, excessive thirst, muscular stiffness, exhaustion and loss of sensation or taste in the mouth.” Although coconut oil may help prevent tooth decay, don’t swallow the oil. Be sure to consult your dentist for best practices and to decide if oil pulling is right for you.
What Benefits Will I Experience?
Swishing coconut oil in your mouth for nearly a half hour is a commendable feat, especially if done for over seven days. Seems like a lot—but it’s worth it. The paybacks are pretty motivating for better oral health and include strengthened tooth enamel, tooth decay prevention and the alleviation of sore jaws and bleeding gums.
Are There Alternatives to Using Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is not the only oil that has health benefits: “In Ayurveda, many different liquids can be used depending on the condition being treated and the physiology of the person. Milk, honey and hot water containing herbs are just some of the other mediums” to explore. You can also use sunflower or sesame oil as an alternative to coconut oil. Be sure to choose organic.