OraWellness makes my very favorite toothpaste alternative, called HealThy Mouth blend. I think one of the reasons it works so well is because it’s made from… wait for it… OIL. I also use it to swish, meaning every time I use it I’m doing a “mini” Oil Pull. Neato! Read more of my review of HealThy Mouth here.
If you hang around any health-oriented websites or blogs, you’ll eventually come across the practice called Oil Pulling. You can Google it to read more, but to put it simply, Oil Pulling is a traditional Ayurveda practice (if you’re unfamiliar, Ayurveda is the medical system native to the Indian subcontinent).
I had heard enough about the benefits from a few bloggers I trust, and what was surprising is that one of these really isn’t the crunchy type at all. While there is little hard data proving any benefits from Oil Pulling, it’s also been shown to be pretty harmless.
A harmless practice that may have tremendous benefits? Why not? Even if it’s placebo effect, um, who cares? I have no problem whatsoever with the placebo effect! In my mind, it’s just evidence that we are indeed “wonderfully made” that the mind can produce healing.
About a year ago I noticed I was waking up in the morning with ridges on the inside of my cheeks where I had been biting on my face or grinding my teeth (bruxing) in my sleep (at this point, my husband said that yes, he had heard me grinding occasionally – which let me to ask him, “Why didn’t you tell me before now?!”).
My dentist told said it would be $700 to fit me for a mouth guard to prevent the grinding. I didn’t want to spend that kind of money so I looked for alternatives. There are several explanations of why some people grind their teeth at night: too much alcohol or caffeine, reflux, TMJ, stress, etc. And as we age, our teeth naturally shift a bit in our mouths. I’ve noticed, for example, that my front bottom teeth seem to be a tiny bit crowded. They don’t overlap, but it’s getting harder to floss them. This shifting may cause bruxism as well, it’s as if the body senses that something is wrong with the teeth and is trying to fix it while we sleep.
Anyway, something I did made it go away. I did reduce my caffeine intake a bit and started taking magnesium (irregularly). Also around that time, I started doing Oil Pulling, as I had read it may have a positive effect on this symptom.
I take about a tablespoon of coconut oil, hold it in my mouth for a second so it melts, and then begin swishing it around as if I were swishing mouthwash. I try to do so for 20 minutes, but it’s usually more like 10-15. I Pull while I’m doing other things, so it’s not as if I’m standing in front of the mirror for that length of time. I typically do it in the early mornings before anyone in my house wakes up, so I don’t have to talk to anyone.
Then, I spit the oil in the trash can. (You don’t want to spit it into your sink, because the oil can clog up your pipes.)
After Oil Pulling at least 3 times a week for a few weeks, I noticed some subtle changes:
My teeth are a shade whiter
I’m a coffee and tea drinker, I enjoy the occasional glass of red wine, and love blueberries, so my teeth get a little darker than I like occasionally. Oil Pulling seems to naturally whiten them without any chemicals or increased sensitivity.
My teeth are cleaner
After Oil Pulling, if I floss, I get ZERO gunk on the floss. (How’s that for over-sharing?) And this is without brushing, JUST Oil Pulling. The oil seems to truly remove plague and tartar as well. I have a small space inbetween my two front bottom teeth that always get a bit of tartar that the dentist has to remove. That stuff is rock hard, but Oil Pulling (over a period of weeks) just dissolves it.
My tongue isn’t coated
Every once in a while, for no reason that I can identify, my tongue becomes coated. It totally grosses me out, and I use a tongue scraper and brush my tongue like mad, which helps somewhat. But Oil Pulling totally ZAPS any coating after ONE session. It’s really remarkable.
My teeth are less sensitive
I also noticed several months ago that my teeth had developed sensitivity to cold. This concerned me greatly, because I have read many times that sensitivity is a sign of gum disease. Pregnancy is notoriously hard on teeth, and for me especially for reasons I’ve described in the past.
Another thing I noticed, but didn’t attribute to Oil Pulling right away, is an increase in mucus in the throat. (This may be why traditional Ayurvedic practitioners recommend drinking water after Oil Pulling? To wash away the mucus?) I experienced this symptom for a bit, then it cleared, and I found that I had less sinus-y “stuff”. Afterwards I read that this is a common sign, and a GOOD one… Oil Pulling is supposed to literally pull phlegm out of the nasal passages, so it’s getting rid of it.
All of these convince me that something good is happening.