One of the terms I’ve heard recently is “coconut oil pulling.” I decided to try it and learn more about one of the newest trends in dental hygiene. And before we go into the nitty-gritty, coconut oil pulling is exactly that: a way to improve your dental hygiene. There are a few studies that support this method, and I know a few people who have tried it and swear by it. And now that I’ve tried it, I can say that it has numerous benefits. For starters, the process whitens your teeth, improves your oral health, and just as importantly, freshens your breath.
Oil pulling is actually an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique. The process involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth on an empty stomach. Let’s take a look why should you do it, and why coconut oil is your best option.
How does it work?
As mentioned previously, this technique requires that you swish oil around in your mouth. In a way, think of coconut oil pulling as a mouthwash. You will need one tablespoon of oil and then swish for 15 to 20 minutes.
The main benefit of oil pulling is that you clean your mouth of bacteria. We all know there are bacteria living inside our mouth. Some of them are good, some of them are bad. The more good bacteria you have, the better your oral health is.
Bacteria in our mouth create a thin layer on the teeth, something that we know as plaque. It’s normal to have a plaque on your teeth, but when it gets out of hand, our oral health suffers. When you oil pulls, all the harmful bacteria become stuck in the oil. In a way, you remove bacteria and plaque at the same time.
Why should you oil pull?
There are four main reasons why should you perform coconut oil pulling. There are also many small reasons. But let’s talk about the main reasons.
- For starters, you reduce harmful bacteria in your mouth. The first one of those is streptococcus mutans, the main villain causing your plaque and tooth decay.
- The second main reason why should you oil pull is to reduce plaque and gingivitis. Oil pulling can reduce inflammation of the gums and thus improve your oral health.
- Some people say that oil pulling can actually whiten your teeth. While there is no scientific proof to this, you will notice that your teeth look whiter. The reason is simple. No plaque = whiter teeth.
- Last, but not least, oil pulling reduces bad breath, thereby freshening your breath. I’m sure you would love to get rid of the smell of the chemicals and gasses produced in your mouth.
Some of the other reasons why you should you include coconut oil pulling as part of your oral hygiene routine are that it: heals bleeding gums, soothes throat dryness, boosts the immune system, strengthens gums, strengthens the jaw, reduces inflammation, and prevents cavities.
There are risks and benefits with every procedure. Coconut oil pulling should be part of your complete oral health regimen; it is not a replacement for regular oral hygiene (including brushing your teeth).
When used in combination with other dental hygiene methods, coconut oil pulling is very effective. But never, ever use it as your main oral health method.
You should also consult your dentist before trying it. If you have previously had a reaction to the topical use of coconut oil, don’t use it for oil pulling. Try coconut oil on your skin first, and then in your mouth. If there are no topical reactions, go for it.
How does one oil pull?
The process is actually extremely simple and easy. There are three steps:
Step 1: Put one tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth
Step 2: Swish and suck the oil around your mouth for 15-20 minutes
Step 3: Spit the oil out, and then brush your teeth
You can rinse your mouth with water before brushing your teeth to clean the excess oil from your mouth. You can even swish with some salt water for maximum benefit and effectiveness. Most importantly, you need to perform this method early in the morning, on an empty stomach. Also, do the coconut oil pulling before brushing your teeth (you’ll brush your teeth later as part of the process). Bonus tip, if you use coconut oil, you might need to chew on the oil for a minute, as it can be hard before it warms up in your mouth.
Can you mix coconut oil with other oils?
We talk about coconut oil all the time. So the question is, can you mix coconut oil with other oils for maximum benefits? And the answer is, yes, of course you can. But you need to know which oils go well with coconut. Luckily, I have few suggestions.
- For everyday use, add peppermint or lemon oil to coconut oil. You need just a few drops.
- If your gums are irritated and inflamed, rub some vitamin E oil on the surface, and then swish with coconut oil. Or you can add a few drops of vitamin E essential oil to your coconut oil.
- When you are sick and/or have an infection, add clove oil to the mix.
Benefits of coconut oil
The same oil pulling method can be performed with other oils as well. For example, people have used sunflower or sesame oil. But coconut oil has the most benefits of them all. Let’s take a look at some of them.
- Coconut oil contains fatty acids that are extremely healthy and beneficial.
- As mentioned numerous times, coconut oil can kill harmful microorganisms thanks to its lauric acid and monolaurin.
- Coconut oil reduces hunger.
- All of the fatty acids in coconut oil are turned into ketones (which reduce seizures).
- Coconut oil improves blood cholesterol levels.
- Thanks to its extremely rare and beneficiary fatty acids, coconut oil boosts brain function.
- Coconut oil reduces inflammation.
- It increases energy and endurance.
- Coconut oil reduces stomach ulcers and improves digestion in the process.
Start with just 5 minutes of swishing per day; fifteen or twenty minutes is a long time. I know that the more you swish, the more bacteria you remove. But start slowly, and increase from there.
- Never, ever swallow. If you find you have too much oil in your mouth, spit it out, and then use a smaller amount. It will take some time to hit the perfect amount of oil. And despite all the benefits of coconut oil for your health listed above, do not swallow the oil you’ve swished in your mouth. Yes, you can use coconut oil for cooking and eating, but not after you’ve swished it through your mouth for several minutes.
- When spitting the oil out, do not spit down the sink. The best way is to discard into a trash can.
- Do not work too hard. You want to gently swish and suck the oil through the teeth.
- As mentioned previously in the “Cautions” section, do not skip brushing and flossing your teeth. This is extremely important, so I’m stressing it again as the final point of this article.