This may sound like something that only happens on an oil rig, but it’s actually a beauty treatment that you can do right in your very own bathroom! Oil pulling (also known as oil swishing) is an ancient practice that yields many beauty and health benefits. While it may sound a little uncomfortable (and slightly gross), it’s an easy method that only takes a few minutes and costs next-to-nothing while offering numerous benefits.
All you need is a jar of natural coconut oil (some people prefer to use sunflower oil or sesame oil) from a place like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, and use it in place of a mouth wash. Simply scoop a tablespoon of the oil and place it in your mouth, let it sit for a few seconds in order to warm up and melt slightly, then swish it around in your mouth for a minimum of 15 minutes (and no more than 20 minutes). This is the hardest part of course, and you may need to work your way up to the full time during the first few weeks.
Now for the benefits: mainly, it helps reduce the amount of harmful bacteria that is harbored in your mouth (which is said to be the dirtiest part of the body — even more so than the feet!) While there are good bacteria in our body that we need, there are also harmful ones that are responsible for things like plaque, which are caused by mouth bacteria that create a thin biofilm layer over the teeth. Everyone gets plaque, and all it takes is a quick teeth cleaning at the dentist to take care of this, but if you let it go untreated for too long, it can turn into worse problems such as bad breath, inflammation of the gums, gingivitis, yellow teeth and cavities.
Oil pulling works by latching onto the bacteria and removing them from your mouth when you spit out the oil containing the dissolved bacteria. Again, you don’t have to use coconut oil, but it contains lauric acid, which has been proven to kill bacteria, viruses and certain fungi.
In addition to fighting the bacteria that cause plaque, oil pulling also gets rid of bacteria that are responsible for bad breath (also known as halitosis), along with the bacteria that cause gingivitis (when your immune system attack the bacteria in your plaque).
Word to the wise: coconut oil has a tendency to harden at certain temperatures, so you’ll want to spit the oil out into either a trash can or the toilet, because if you spit into the shower drain or the sink, you’ll end up with a clogged drain later – which is a nightmare in itself to deal with!
This may be hard to do on a nightly basis, not to mention that it is time-consuming and tedious, but even if you can fit it into your self care schedule at least three times a week along with your regular dental routine, you’ll definitely notice a whiter smile and you may even find that you’re going to the dentist a lot less frequently!
By: Kamala Kirk