For the pearliest of pearly whites, both Gwyneth Paltrow and star of Divergent, Shailene Woodley, are advocating a rather unconventional method: “oil pulling.” For those who want a more natural–and not to mention, affordable–way to get that perfect smile, this may be the answer.
“I just started ‘oil pulling,’ which is when you swish coconut oil around [in your mouth] for 20 minutes, and it’s supposed to be great for oral health and making your teeth white,” Paltrow said.
Woodley promotes the ancient Arurvedic technique as well, stating:
“It really makes your teeth whiter, because the plaque on your teeth is not water soluble, it’s fat-soluble. So the lipids have to dissolve in fats, which is why oil works in your mouth. I prefer sesame oil, but they’re both good.”
As with any bold celebrity claim, a little fact-checking may be in order to determine the validity of this practice.
When questioned about its possible undesired side effects, Dr. Marc Lowenberg, a cosmetic dentist based in New York City, states that it’s a “harmless natural remedy without any downsides.” He agrees with Woodley’s description and adds that not only does it whiten your teeth, it also promotes fresher breath. While mouthwash is only effective for immediate short-term use, oil pulling “really takes the toxins out of your mouth” which will deter bad breath longer.
For best results, oil pulling is recommended first thing in the morning before anything has been consumed. It should be swished around for 15-20 minutes. Remember to spit the oil into the sink (it’ll clog drains) and then use a tongue scraper to clear away any leftover residue on the tongue.
So unless you want to be “consciously uncoupled”, get to your local grocer, pick your poison, (coconut or sesame) and start swishing!
How to oil pull
Get some virgin coconut oil (or sunflower, sesame, olive or peanut, expeller pressed and refined if you want mild flavor) from your local health food store (New Leaf, Staff of Life, Rainbow Grocery, Alameda Natural Grocery, etc.).
Put 2-3 teaspoons of oil in your mouth.
Start on an empty stomach since that is when bacterial levels are at their highest (saliva reduces bacteria because it is alkaline).
Push, pull, and swish the oil between your teeth and all around your mouth for 15-20 minutes. It sounds like a long time, but if you do it while showering, folding laundry, or making breakfast, it goes by quite fast. You need that time to bind enough bacteria with the oil to make a difference.
Do not swallow!
Discard oil in the garbage can and rinse mouth thoroughly. Brush if you’d like.
Do this 1-3 times a day. Once a day is good for maintenance.
HOW TO OIL PULL: for naturally white teeth & a healthy body