Oil Pulling: Even Gwyneth Paltrow is Doing It


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Oil pulling is an increasingly popular method of cleaning teeth naturally.

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow recently told E! that she's jumped on the oil pulling bandwagon.

"... I just started 'oil puling,' 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."

Blogger Trina Holden caused a stir when she admitted to readers that she hadn't used toothpaste in over a year.

Holden swears that after a month of oil pulling, the pain and sensitivity she'd been experiencing in her lower molars disappeared.

And it gets better: her husband developed a nasty-looking cavity - his first, by the way - in his back wisdom tooth. Mr. Holden started oil pulling five to six times a week and a little over a month later, the infected tooth was "[w]hite. White with a bit of yellow, but the black and green and brown were all gone, and the surface of the tooth was smoothing out instead of being pitted."

Oil pulling devotees operate under the basic principle that, as Holden says "what we eat has so much more of an affect on our teeth than the substance we scrub them with."

Oil pulling acts to pull the toxins out of the teeth, basically absorbing them into the coconut oil, which practitioners spit out after swishing in their mouths for 20 minutes.

“Oil is antimicrobial and gets into the tissues of the mouth to inhibit bacterial growth,” says Todd Caldecott, Ayurvedic practitioner and Executive Director of the Dogwood School of Botanical Medicine.

Oil pulling has its roots in Ayurveda, an alternative system of medicine native to India that's been around for over 3,000 years.

“It’s used to prevent tooth decay, to prevent mouth odor, bleeding gums, dryness or hoarseness of the throat, while strengthening the teeth and gums,” says Dr. Scott Gerson, an Ayurvedic physician based in Brewster, NY.

According to Gerson and other Ayurvedic experts, for best results oil pulling should be performed consistently every morning.

Most practitioners use coconut oil but sesame oil is also an option. Both oils contain essential fatty acids, which act as a solvent for most of the body's toxins.

Dr. Sheila Patel, Medical Director of The Chopra Center, says that oil pulling “should be part of a healthy holistic daily routine that includes brushing your teeth and cleaning your tongue.”

Image via Wikimedia Commons