Perhaps it is because I am British that I am self concious about my smile, or maybe it is simply because I know deep down it could more than do with some improvement. Either way I am a curious and somewhat vain (aren't we all creature) person and with everyone and their dog hoping aboard the oil pulling train, I thought it was time I gave it a whirl too - that big ol' jar of coconut oil I own has to be used some way or other.
I'm sure you have read the apparent benefits of oil pulling: from whitening the teeth, curing bad breath to detoxing the body. I say apparent as I don't really believe that swishing oil around your mouth can offer much in terms of detox; the body naturally self cleanses (that's why we have kidneys and a liver - I hate sounding like a nag but it is true) but the deep cleansing aspect for the teeth as well as the chance of whiter teeth reeled me in.
The two most popular oils to use when oil pulling are: coconut and sesame oils (of course others can be used too) - I know which I'd prefer the taste of daily. It seems technique differs broadly from person to person, most will pop the oil into the mouth when it is a solid (in the case of coconut oil), gargle for up to 20 minutes and spit out. Others will warm the coconut oil so it is already in liquid form and then proceed.
Is it a pleasant experience? Honestly not really - like most things I approached with a certain level of vigour, only to result in a tired aching jaw five minutes into the process. Slow and steady wins the race but after a while you do get bored of the taste and a mouth of oil. The other bone of contention seems to be that some use oil pulling in place of brushing the teeth and other general oral hygiene methods. Myself and others see it as an additional step, I do it in the afternoon so that I am not immediately rinsing or brushing the oil off of my teeth. I'm not sure if this is correct or at all beneficial but I'll tell you something for nothing - I am not ditching my toothbrush nor bottle of Listerine any time soon.
Either way it does take a few tries to fully become acquainted with the process. If I could offer a few pointers it would be: when it comes to the oil less is more, after 20 minutes of gargling it will likely double in size and become not only messy but uncomfortable. Also be sure to spit (so lady like) the remains of your oil pull into a bag to dispose of or at least the rubbish bin to prevent clogging your drains.
So two weeks into my coconut based experiment and what have I learnt? Well it is not for me - the mess, the level of dedication and the general sensation is enough to put me off of coconuts, never mind oil for life. I've already stated my personal stance on the detoxing in this sense (I may be wrong, it wouldn't be the first time ha!) so I can't possibly comment if it does or does not work. What I can say is that the silky and almost sticky oil does a great job of removing food stuck from between my teeth, all the while leaving the mouth feeling deeply cleansed. I'll spare you (and myself the blushes) of a before and after photo but there certainly is an element of whitening - no where near that achieved from dental bleaching but as it is natural and pain free, I can't complain as I didn't fully commit.
I won't denounce the age old practise of oil pulling, several generations can't be wrong but for now I'll be saving my coconut oil for my hair and dismal baking attempts. I would love to hear about your experiences - good, bad, indifferent (that is where I stand) or perhaps you have yet to try it out?
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