That's what my parents always told me and I remember looking mesmerised at my great-grandma as she took out her false teeth to show me! It certainly did the trick and I have always made sure I brush my teeth twice a day and take good care of them ever since.
Nowadays, it seems that TV, magazines and pretty much everywhere you look, there are tips about trying to make your teeth look cleaner and whiter. More concerned with inner than outer beauty, I've never paid much attention to how white my teeth are but I overheard an ayurvedic practitioner talking about the benefits of this technique whist I was working on a week long ayurvedic retreat. Having recently acquired an interest in ayurveda generally I was too curious not to find out more so I got on Google. There are tons of blogs and articles out there about this miracle tratment, oil pulling. Many of the articles tout the benefits, provide guides on how to do it and tell you all about the miraculous results.
This miracle trick supposedly not only whitens your teeth naturally, but also improves the heallth of your teeth, mouth, gums, facial muscles and help to get rid of bad breath. Sounding too good to be true, I decided to put it to the test.
Oil pulling or "kavala" and "gundusha" are an ancient ayurvedic techniques used to promote dental health and draw toxins out of the body. When used as part of ayurvedic treatement, your constitution, diet and lifestyle are all carefully taken into consideration before recommendations are made to ensure that your body is kept in balance.
I'm not an ayurvedic pratitioner and my knowledge about such a huge and vast topic is very modest, so I decided to try out the technique purely out of curiosity and without much thought given to my own constitution, diet and lifestyle.
Every morning for the past week I have swished a teaspoon of oil around my mouth for 20 minutes before brushing my teeth like normal. I've been using coconut oil. Other recommendations were olive oil or sesame oil but I decided cocout would taste better and I already had some in my cupboard! Many of the online guides I've read also recommned coconut oil because of its well known health benefits of which the following are just a few:
1. Lauric acid containied in coconut oil converts into monolaurin which has anti-microbial properties meaning it is excellent at fighting bacteria and improving immunity
2. Coconut oil contains natural saturated fats which increase healthy cholesterol and hep to convert bad cholesterol into good.
3. It smells and tastes delicious!
Honestly, the first time I tried the oil pulling, it was hard to keep the oil in. Although coconut oil does smell and taste nice, initially I did not enjoy the experience - the feel of having a whole spoon full of oil in my mouth was pretty repulsive and I was terrified of accidentally swallowing it all!
I hopped in the shower and swished away for 20 minutes whilst I was getting washed and ready. After spitting the oil down in the loo (coconut oil sets when cold so can block drains if you spit into the sink!) and rinsing with warm water, I was surprised to find that my mouth absolutely did feel much cleaner. My mouth muscles defnitely felt used and my jaw was a little tired. I brushed my teeth like normal and was happy to find my teeth, mouth and gums feeling sparkly clean. Of course, the effects are suposed to build up over time but I've never been very patient so I immediately looked in the mirror hoping to see bright white teeth sparkling back at me.....but they kind of just looked the same as before! Well, onward I thought!
It's now been a week and I've repeated the process every morning and I'm pleased to say my teeth do feel healthier, cleaner and look whiter. Maye it's all in my head but it feels cleaner to me. Here are my before and after pics....
Whilst researching more, I did find one article on the website of another ayurvedic practitioner's site, criticising people for being careless with ayurvedic treatments without fully understanding them. I think that anyone who is seriously looking for an ayurvedic treatment shouldn't be relying on online articles but visitng a registered ayurvedic practitioner. But I was curious to hear what these potential bad side effects might be.
One thing that was mentioned in the article I read was how using coconut oil could increase kapha in a person (in ayurveda kapha has cold and wet qualities and so excess kapha can present symptoms such as cold, congestion and coughs). Coincidentally, this week whilst I have been oil pulling, I have also had a nasty cold and cough....
Skeptical but super curious as to whether oil pulling could have anything to do with it, I contacted the ayurvedic practitioner I know for her take on it. Could coconut oil pulling be causing my cold? Could it be making my sinuses feel bunged up? Could it have given me a cough?
She quickly dismissed the idea that coconut oil could have caused my cold as cold is of course, a virus afterall. What a relief! But did mention that coconut oil could cause me to feel a bit more snotty whilst I did have a cold! She told me to give sesame oil a try so I will be moving on to that next.
The conclusion I've come to though is that oil pulling does have some benefits. My teeth, mouth and ums have all felt cleaner, my breath smells fresher and as a sufferer of night-time teeth grinding, using my muscles to swish the oil around helps to loosen tension in my jaw. My teeth do look whiter and I'm glad I gave it a try. I'll be moving on to sesame oil next and will report back again when I've tried that for a week!
If you're interested in trying oil pulling here's what to do:
1. Try and do your oil pulling first thing in the morning before eating breakfast or brushing your teeth. I do it whilst I'm having a shower.
2. Put one spooful of oil into your mouth and begin to swish back and forth. You don't have to strain to do it too forcefully, gentle swishing is fine!
3. Keep swishing for 10-20 minutes before spitting out. You'll probably notice the consitency of the oil changing, becoming more watery. Remember to spit the oil into the toilet or a bin so that it doesn't clog up your drains!
4. Rise your mouth with warm water (some recommend warm salt water for it's anti-bacterial properties but I couldn't face that!) and brush your teeth as normal.
Let me know your expreiences - have you tried it too? Hw did you find it? Any tips and advice for more successful oil pulling?