The practice of oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that is regaining popularity. And new studies show it actually works.
You’ve probably read all about oil pulling on social media.
But recent studies are proving what hippies have known for years: swishing coconut oil around in your mouth actually improves your dental health.
I grew up in the days of Pop Rocks and Sweet Tarts, and suffered through the subsequent era of cavities and crowns and too much coffee. I’ve never been that happy with my teeth or my smile, so if there is any kind of home remedy to make your mouth look and feel better, I’m game. And according to a report from the Society for General Microbiology, coconut oil is a natural antibiotic that can attack the bacteria that cause tooth decay, gingivitis, plaque build-up, and bad breath. They found that enzyme-modified coconut oil (or coconut oil that is partially digested as it is swished around the mouth) strongly inhibited the growth of most strains of Streptococcus bacteria including Streptococcus mutans—an acid-producing bacterium that is a major cause of tooth decay.
And the truth is, it’s easy to do—and it’s a pleasant experience.
It tastes pretty good and your mouth feels refreshed after. And even if you’re reluctant to spend the money at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods for organic coconut oil, it’s a whole lot cheaper than dental work. And less painless.
Here’s how you do it:
—Spoon, swish, and spit. Coconut oil is a solid substance, not clarified like other oils. Put about a tablespoon in your mouth. The heat and enzymes in your mouth will turn it into a liquid pretty quickly. You should swish it gently through your teeth and throughout your mouth for a few minutes, then spit it out (outside or in the trash, so you don’t clog your drain).
—Brush before you swish. Oil pulling should be done after you brush and floss, not instead of brushing or flossing. It’s a supplemental therapy that is used to prevent tooth decay, not reverse it.
—Don’t swallow it. If you feel like you need to swallow it, you probably used too much—use a little less next time.
—Use coconut oil. If you hate the taste of coconut, you can try sesame or sunflower oil which also have the anti-bacterial properties, but coconut has the added benefit of lauric acid, an anti-microbial agent that makes it more effective.