Coconut oil is a highly nutritious oil that has a wide variety of uses in health and personal care.
It has abundant saturated fat content, and that fat is especially beneficial because it consists almost entirely of medium-chain triglycerides (aka: MCT).
This is important because MCT metabolizes in a different manner than long-chain triglycerides (aka: LCT) found in other sources of saturated fat and (to a lesser extent) in coconut oil. MCT like this one delivers a wide variety of health benefits.
One important MCT is lauric acid, and it makes up about half the content of coconut oil. The human body breaks down lauric acid into a compound known as monolaurin. Lauric acid in its original state and monolaurin have very potent antiviral, antifungal and anti-bacterial properties.
Current research indicates that lauric acid is the most effective of saturated fatty acids when it comes to killing pathogens and that the other health benefits conveyed by coconut oil are directly attributable to its lauric acid content.
Like any new and exciting health find, coconut oil has been touted as healing everything from cancer to cavities. Can coconut oil actually make your teeth healthier and whiter?
Apparently, there is quite a bit of credence to this claim of having a healthier, whiter teeth, and it all comes down to the ancient Indian Ayurvedic practice of oil-pulling.
Note: My doctor told me that he had been oil pullig for 4 months. When he went to his dentist recently, they asked him why he came… his mouth and teeth were clean and looked great.
While this time and clinically proven practice is certainly not a replacement for regular oral hygiene and dental health, coconut oil pulling teeth can make a very addition to a smart dental care program.
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of oil pulling and other ways you can make good use of healthy, all-natural coconut oil to brighten your smile and improve your oral health. Read on to learn more.
What Is Oil-Pulling?
Oil-pulling is an Ayurvedic (holistic eastern medicine) practice that involves swishing a tablespoonful or less of oil around your mouth and pulling it through your teeth for a few minutes, several times a week.
Rinsing your mouth with oil picks up microbes, which are powerfully drawn to the oil. The viscosity of oil allows it to penetrate deeply into tiny crevices and pores where ordinary brushing with water and toothpaste, or even swishing with powerful mouthwash would have no effect.
Bacteria cells’ skin consists of a fatty, lipid coating. When this fatty coating meets up with the saturated fats in coconut oil, they’re stuck. That’s what makes oil pulling work. When you swish coconut oil around in your mouth for a measured period of time, bacteria is sucked out of hiding and adheres firmly to the oil.
How Long Do You Have To Swish?
Instructions for oil pulling vary. Some experts say to practice this routine for 3 minutes every day. Others say to do it for 20 minutes every-other-day. Still others recommend 15 minutes a day. To determine how long and how often you should practice oil pulling, it helps to understand the goal.
You want to swish the oil around in your mouth long enough for it to turn a milky white color. This means that you have dislodged a lot of bacteria and it is stuck in the oil. That’s what produces the milky color and texture of the oil.
Naturally, the longer you swish the more effective the process will be; however, you may not have time to swish oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes a day. One way to include oil pulling in your daily personal care routine is to be sure to save tooth-brushing for last.
Start your oil pulling at the beginning of your morning personal care routine. Get dressed, do your hair, shave or whatever. Once everything else is done, spit out your pulled oil, rinse your mouth and brush your teeth.
Should You Oil Pull In The Morning Or At Night?
There are pros and cons for both. Oil pulling in the morning while you are getting ready for your day can be convenient, and you start your day with an absolutely fresh, clean mouth. On the other hand, sleeping with an absolutely fresh, clean mouth can be very helpful in preventing cavities and bad breath.
In the final analysis, you should try it both ways and select the time that works best for you. That way you’ll be more likely to work this smart practice into your daily care routine in a reliable way.
You’ll need virgin coconut oil or fractionated coconut oil. The difference between these two types of oil is a process. Virgin organic coconut oil consists of mostly medium chain fatty acids with some long chain fatty acids. It is solid at room temperature. Fractionated coconut oil is oil from which the long chain fatty acids have been removed. It remains liquid at room temperature.
For the purpose of oil pulling, you should choose the product that pleases you best. If you would find it annoying to dig out a teaspoonful of solid coconut oil for oil pulling, use fractionated. It actually contains more lauric acid than virgin coconut oil.
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- Brushing and flossing or use a dental pick, if necessary, to clean bits of food out from between your teeth.
- Measure a comfortable amount of oil. Most people use a tablespoonful, but if that seems like too much don’t struggle with it. Try a teaspoonful of this best seller and see how that works. Adjust as needed to suit your particular mouth. If you have too much oil in your mouth, you run the risk of swallowing it, and that’s something you want to avoid since it’s full of germs.
- Pull the oil through your teeth and swish it around for fifteen or twenty minutes. You don’t have to sit in one place while you do this. You can go about your business, just don’t forget to swish while you’re doing that!
- When the time is up, spit the oil out in the trash can (not the sink or toilet).
- Rinse your mouth with warm water. This you can spit into the sink, but be advised you will get a thin film of oil on the sink. It’s a good idea to wipe the sink with a paper towel when you finish brushing your teeth.
- Brush your teeth as usual.
A Few Words About Coconut Oil Cleanup
Coconut oil for oil pulling can be messy, and it is filled with germs. It is very hard to clean up if you lose control of it. You should never spit the oil out in your sink or toilet. It will coat your pipes and clog your sink, and it is almost impossible to scrub out of the toilet.
Always spit it out into a trash can. It helps to line the bottom of your trash can (or trash can liner) with a layer of newspaper and/or dryer lint to help absorb the oil. This is true even if you have a plastic bag in the can because the oil can leak. I put mine in a paper cup.
Be advised that you should make certain pets cannot tamper with your trash can. Remember that the oil is full of germs and messy, so take care to secure your trash can to keep pets out.
If you live in an area where fire ants are a problem, the oil in the trash can or even a fine film in your sink can attract them. To prevent fire ant invasion, remember to clean your sink thoroughly after brushing your teeth to prevent the ants from being attracted to any residual coconut oil.
If you believe fire ants might be attracted to your trash, or if you just want to keep your discarded oil separate and completely secure, you can use a disposable container such as a coffee can or plastic tub with a tightly fitting lid.
You can let this container do double duty to dispose of dryer lint, which will absorb the oil for a less aesthetically displeasing experience. When the container is, just toss it out and replace it with a new one.
You Can Also Make Coconut Oil Toothpaste
Just as commercial mouthwash often contains harsh chemicals that actually irritate your mouth, teeth and gums, commercially prepared toothpaste can contain all sorts of things you might not like to ingest. If you’d like to get away from chemical laden products, you’ll be happy to know that you can use coconut oil for a wide variety of personal care activities, including brushing your teeth.
Here’s a recipe for coconut oil toothpaste.
To make this recipe, you will need virgin coconut oil that remains solid at room temperature. Warm it slowly by setting your container of oil in a bowl of very warm water until the oil attains a liquid state.
In a clean ceramic or glass jar with a lid, combine half a cup of the liquefied coconut oil with about a dozen drops of the essential oil of your choice (e.g. peppermint, spearmint, cinnamon or clove essential oils). Add a couple of tablespoonsful of baking soda gradually. Stir it into the liquid oil thoroughly with a whisk or a fork to a paste-like consistency.
- Put the lid on your container and store it in a cool, dark place. Give it an hour or so to solidify before using.
- Dip out a bit of your homemade toothpaste with an implement such as a butter knife to apply it to your toothbrush.
- Brush your teeth as usual and rinse thoroughly.
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This recipe can also be used to make an all natural underarm deodorant. Just use oil of lavender, rose oil, patchouli or the scented essential oil of your choice instead of mint, cinnamon or clove to avoid a burning sensation on the skin.
Using coconut oil as a mouth rinse for oil pulling and as the main ingredient in your toothpaste can have a soothing, health giving effect on your mouth and, indeed, your entire body. Toothpaste made with coconut oil and baking soda has excellent natural whitening properties. Baking soda is also a natural deodorizing agent for even fresher breath.
How Does Coconut Oil Taste?
Coconut oil by itself is quite tasty and pleasant to use. Try adding a couple of drops of peppermint, spearmint, clove or cinnamon oil to flavor your oil-pulling. If you are suffering from painful mouth sores or plaque-induced gingivitis, try adding a couple of drops of oil of oregano. It has very powerful anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Can You Use Other Types Of Oil?
As we have discussed, coconut oil is an excellent, all-around-healthy oil. Oil pulling with any good, natural oil will have some anti-bacterial effect because of the mechanical action of the process, but coconut oil is far and away the very best choice for a number of reasons.
In Ayurvedic medicine, sesame oil like this one is often recommended for oil pulling. Many people like to use sunflower oil for this purpose. Coconut oil is superior to both of these because it does not contain Omega 6 fatty acids, which contribute to inflammation.
Furthermore, the high amount of saturated fat in coconut oil does a stellar job of grabbing and holding bacteria. Add to that the fact that lauric acid has absolutely unbeatable antimicrobial properties and it’s easy to see that coconut oil is the clear top choice for oil pulling.
Oil Pulling Can Improve Your Overall Health
Good oral hygiene leads to good general health. Widely publicized studies have shown that poor oral hygiene, dental caries and other dental problems can lead to heart disease and a wide array of other health problems.
In fact, bacterial infection very often causes endocarditis (inflammation of the inner lining of the heart) when germs get into the bloodstream and make their way to the heart.
According to Dr. Jessica T. Emery, DMD even a clean mouth can harbor between a thousand and one-hundred-thousand bacteria on each and every tooth. A poorly cared for mouth may harbor between a hundred-million and a billion bacteria per tooth.
Oil pulling is a simple way to pull away some of those bacteria and prevent them from entering your system. It’s a simple way to give your immune system a helping hand.
This can be extremely helpful to those with compromised immune systems, mitral valve prolapse (MVP), artificial joints and those who have had major surgery. This is especially true prior to dental procedures.
If the mouth is rampant with bad bacteria, it can easily enter the bloodstream during a dental procedure, travel through the body and cause very serious illness.
People who are prone to gingivitis can greatly benefit from oil-pulling with coconut oil. This is especially true for pregnant women. Fluctuations in hormones can make them very susceptible to developing gingivitis.
The bacteria that causes this inflammation of the gums can easily travel into the blood stream and cause complications with the pregnancy. Good oral hygiene and regular dental care can help prevent complications such as premature delivery and/or low birth rate.
People who are battling oral cancer also tend to have higher rates of oral bacteria. Oil pulling with coconut oil can provide excellent, benign support for cancer treatment. It can also help soothe inflammation and make life more comfortable for people struggling to overcome oral cancer.
In addition to these very serious health conditions, it only stands to reason that oil pulling can help reduce your exposure to germs and viruses associated with colds and flu, pneumonia, sinusitis and various and sundry health threats you may encounter every day.
The saturated fats in coconut oil latch onto microbes of all sorts, while the lauric acid helps kill them off and the omega 3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation.
Lauric acid is highly effective against oral bacteria such as:
- Streptococcus mutans
- P. melaninogenica
- C . gingivitis
- S. mitis
Adding it to your oral care routine is an excellent way to combat gum disease, halitosis and prevent tooth decay.
Oil Pulling Prevents Gum Disease & Tooth Decay By Reducing Plaque & Fighting Bacteria
Gingivitis manifests as sore, inflamed gums. This is caused by harmful bacteria that leads to plaque buildup on the teeth. A 30-day study conducted on 60 adolescents showed a significant plaque decrease after just one week of oil pulling practice.
Results continued to improve throughout the entire month of the study. By the end of the study, all participants showed an almost 70% decrease in the amount of measurable plaque on the teeth. Instance of gingivitis inflammation decreased by nearly 60%.
Tooth decay is primarily caused by Lactobacillus and Streptococcus mutans. Oil pulling with coconut oil has been shown to be more effective against these bacteria than using medicinal mouthwash containing chlorhexidine.
While the alcohol and chemicals typically found in commercially prepared mouthwash can be very irritating to the soft tissues of the mouth and can cause irritation, coconut oil works by simply gathering up and sweeping away negative bacteria while soothing and healing irritation.
Are There Any Downsides To Oil Pulling?
All-in-all, oil pulling is entirely positive. The only problems you might run into have to do with technique and disposal. Remember:
- Be sure to rinse your mouth out with warm water as soon as you spit the oil out.
- Swish gently, you don’t want to make your jaws tired!
- Dispose of the used oil properly.
- Don’t use too much oil.
- Don’t swallow the oil.
- If you follow these simple guidelines, you should not experience any problems or complications associated with oil pulling.
Does It Really Work?
There is a great deal of anecdotal and clinical evidence that indicates that oil pulling with coconut oil is very effective in resolving problems with bad breath, helping gingivitis heal, mediating tooth sensitivity and even whitening teeth. Just as with any good oral hygiene practice, oil pulling can help prevent cavities by keeping your teeth clean and removing bacteria from your mouth.
Consistent oil pulling practice is a wonderful support for good oral care. It gets your mouth very clean and leaves you with a fresh feeling that can last all day long. When you practice oil pulling consistently, you will surely see an improvement in your oral health in a relatively short period of time. You are also very likely to experience improved overall health in the long run.