I first heard of oil pulling years ago. There were so many skeptics of the practice that I never considered trying it until recently. I’m studying Nutritional Therapy and just concluded a section on detoxification, and one of the many different detoxification methods was oil pulling. Since I had a dental cleaning appointment scheduled at the end of August, I decided to give it a try. I wanted to see if it had any impact on my pain level, length of the appointment, and whether the hygienist noticed a difference in my teeth.
It was early July when I started using 1TB of coconut oil (unrefined, organic) every morning. Sometimes it would gross me out if was a cold morning and the oil was hard and it would take a few moments in my mouth for it to melt. I’d swish for about 10 minutes while trying to stay busy doing things like making coffee, tidying up, and getting ready for the gym. Once the 10 minute mark hit, I’d spit it into the trash – never a good idea to dump oil down the sink drain.
*I love Trader Joes’ unrefined, cold-pressed, organic coconut oil. Great price, great stuff.
Disclaimer: I was not consistent with this over the 6-8 weeks. For the first week I was very consistent, pulling on most mornings. I even brought oil with me on my work trips. But the consistency waned and I went from most mornings to 1 or 2 mornings a week.
After week 1 I noticed a serious improvement in the plaque behind my front bottom teeth. It is that area that normally collects the most plaque, and makes me sweat through my clothes during my teeth cleaning appointments. But after a week of pulling, I could easily blow air through the clean-as-a-whistle spaces between those teeth! This is a sensation I normally have for ONLY a few weeks post dental cleaning.
A week before my cleaning appointment I had gone paddle boarding and when I landed back at the beach an older gentleman approached me to say hi. I smiled and he said “You have such white teeth!” This is a compliment I’ve never heard in my entire life! I thanked him, ‘Really?? Well, thank you! My dentist will be happy to see me this week, then.”
So last Thursday was the day. I arrived for my dreaded teeth cleaning with a little less fear. I had a feeling this appointment would be a little easier, based on the lack of plaque on the back of my bottom front teeth. I told the hygienist “Ok, I want you to be completely honest with me. I have been working at my teeth, brushing longer, flossing almost daily (things I have always done), and I’ve added a secret trick to my dental routine. Let me know if you see an improvement, ok? She said the way the cleaning feels will speak for itself, but she would be honest with me.
Side note: I am a competitive person. My goal with every doctor’s appointment is to show improvements from the last appointment, especially with blood work. My blood work is always pretty good, but I want it to be AWESOME. Same goes with dental appointments.
I laid in the chair and she had me open my mouth, sharp pick thingy in hand. The first place she looked was at the back of the bottom front teeth. “Wow, now this is something I’ve never seen before.” She couldn’t believe how clean they were. Virtually no plaque. She started doing her thing, and the cleaning took a fraction of the time. There was no pain, and barely any scraping needed. On her scale of dental health and habits, she was marking me down as “excellent,” a very rare grade for her patients.
I want to reiterate that prior to oil pulling, these appointments were dreadful for me. I know they are an important part of oral health, so I endure them, but they hurt, and it normally feels like I am listening to nails on chalkboard for 45 minutes straight. I typically wear layers to these appointments because of how much I sweat from the pain, fear, and the heebie-jeebies from the sound, and from a bit of teeth sensitivity. I never complain about it, I just deal with it. And this is no knock to my hygienist. She is wonderful.
So, if you tend to have tough cleanings, give oil pulling a try. Not only will it help with tooth plaque, but it will freshen breath (and helps with halitosis), whiten teeth, and it’s a great method of detoxification. For more information, check out this article by Dr Axe: on Oil Pulling.