Today’s self-care exercise will require:
- Coconut Oil (Nutiva is my favorite brand; a 15 ounce tub is available at Walmart, Whole Foods, or Amazon for approximately $15)
Are you aware of the importance of oral health? As Dr. Sanda Moldovan plainly states on the front page of her website, “Your mouth is the gateway to your health.” In an interview, Dr. Moldovan expanded on this concept by saying, “When we improve oral health, we improve so many other things in the body. People with bad oral hygiene have higher incidence for cardiovascular issues such as heart attack and strokes, and a higher incidence for pneumonia. Men with periodontal disease have a greater risk of erectile dysfunction. Even with diabetes, improved oral health can help control problems in diabetic patients. Also, pregnant women with gum disease have lower birth-weight babies. Yes — everything is connected.”
Now that you know that, maybe you won’t consider me crazy when you discover how seriously I take my own dental hygiene. My typical routine is to floss, oil pull, brush my teeth, scrape my tongue (we’ll talk about that next week), mouthwash, and often coat my teeth in Wintergreen essential oil (among other things, it helps to prevent cavities). You may have noticed my second ritual — oil pulling. It’s been getting a lot of attention lately in the blogger world, and today I want to give you my two cents.
Oil pulling is an effective way to positively impact your oral health by cleansing and detoxifying your teeth and gums. Some of the main benefits of regular oil pulling include reducing bad breath, preventing cavities, strengthening your gums, whitening your teeth, relieving sinus congestion, and clearing your skin. Research has proven that oil pulling reduces gingivitis and plaque buildup and is a successful way to remove a number of toxins and other bacteria from your mouth. We must keep in mind, however, as Dr. Moldovan said, that everything is connected; with this in mind, it might not be too much of a stretch to hear that Ayurvedic texts claim that oil pulling cures thirty various ailments throughout the body.
When oil pulling, I really like to use organic virgin cold-pressed coconut oil (Nutiva is my favorite brand). On top of all the health benefits of oil pulling in general, using coconut oil (instead of using sesame or sunflower oil) for this process kicks things up a notch because of coconut’s anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties. For these reasons, I love using coconut oil when I cook, moisturize, and oil pull.
Ideally oil pulling should be practiced first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Put 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil in your mouth and begin swishing just as if you were using mouthwash. If you didn’t already know, you will soon figure out that coconut oil solidifies when it’s below 76 degrees, but it quickly turns back into a liquid when slightly heated. If the consistency of the solidified coconut oil is repulsive to you, you can consider slightly heating up the oil before beginning to oil pull. I personally just stick the solid(ish) coconut oil in my mouth and start swishing; the temperature of my body and the movement of my mouth has it in a liquid state in no time.
When you’re starting, I suggest only swishing the coconut oil for five minutes; the general recommendation, however, is that you eventually want to work your way up to being able to oil pull for twenty minutes straight. This can sound like a long time (and it is in the beginning), so just start small. (Once you work your way up to the twenty minute mark, a pro tip would just be to oil pull while you shower! Easy peasy.)
After you’ve oil pulled for 5-20 minutes, spit out the contents of your mouth in the trash can. You don’t want to consume this oil because it’s now full of toxins that you are trying to get rid of, so please don’t reabsorb them by swallowing. Likewise, you don’t want to spit the coconut oil in the sink because it will solidify in the drain and could create a clog. Once you’ve spit in the trash, now you can brush your teeth and proceed with life as normal! For best results, it’s recommended that you oil pull three or four times per week.
This week, pick up some coconut oil and give oil pulling a shot. I promise it won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth. A bonus is getting your significant other hooked on oil pulling — it guarantees you 20 minutes of peace and quiet a few times a week 🙂
Photo: Melissa Wiese