Oil Pulling

January 27, 2014

oil pulling

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Oil pulling is by far the most hippie thing I’ve ever done.

If you had told me 2 months ago that I was about to stop brushing my teeth, my confused response would have been something like, “Because I’m going to be in coma?” Brushing teeth has been such a part of my daily routine (and no doubt yours as well) that I couldn’t even imagine life without it.

So how did I become someone who has abandoned her trusty toothbrush and tube of toothpaste? Well, I am about to tell you all about my adventure, but first I have to tell you that if you have no desire to try oil-pulling that it won’t bother me at all. I am not writing this to convince you to try it. I really am not. I receive no benefits or advantages if you try it. Zero. I am not in league with any sort of Oil-Pulling World Domination Organization. I am not an authority on oil-pulling. I have not done extensive research on oil-pulling. I have not taught my kids to oil pull. We still go to the dentist — in fact, Betty was there for some cavity work last month. And if you do try it, and don’t like it, I won’t have my feelings hurt one little bit, and I won’t try to convince you to try it again. I promise. This post is just me, reporting on this odd thing I tried and happened to like.

In early December, Ben Blair took a trip to France to oversee some work on The Cottage. While he was gone, I spent a Saturday morning seeing what was happening on Facebook and I happened upon an update from a woman I don’t even know very well, but she shared a link to someone’s blog post about oil-pulling, and said she was curious about it. And I was curious too. So I clicked through and spent an hour or so in a oil-pulling rabbit hole.

Oil pulling is a technique to clean your teeth and mouth. You put a spoonful of oil in your mouth, then swish it around for 20 minutes (yes, 20 minutes!!). Then you spit it out (into the trash can/compost bin, not the sink, so it won’t clog your plumbing).

In the blog posts I read, people were attaching all sorts of dental miracles to oil-pulling, which of course made me hugely skeptical. Oil pulling fills in cavities! Oil pulling relieves toothaches! Oil pulling whitens teeth! Oil pulling absorbs all the harmful bacteria in your mouth! Oil pulling cures the common cold!

A lot of what I was reading gave me huge eye rolls.

But I was still curious, and some of it made sense to me, and some of the voices were very sincere and realistic. So I tried it. I had a jar of raw coconut oil on hand — the kind that’s solid at room temperature. I put a spoonful in my mouth, waiting for it to melt, and then started swishing. I wanted to see if I could actually make it for 20 minutes. And I did make it. After the 20 minutes, I spit out the oil, and rinsed my mouth with water. Then, I spent the rest of the day running my tongue over my teeth because they felt so different. In a good way. So I thought to myself, I’ll just try it for a week, and see what I think then.

Ben Blair arrived home a couple of days into my experiment. I was blushing as I told him about it, because I felt so dorky about it, but without even reading a blog post, he wanted to try it. And jumped right in.

After that week, I was still delighted with the results and said to myself, I’ll just try it for a month, and see what I think then. Ben Blair did the same.

Now, it’s been almost 2 months, and we’re both still oil-pulling, and my latest thought is that I’ll just keep doing it until I no longer like it.

Here’s some Q&A featuring questions I get asked most about it:

Q: Doesn’t it gross you out to have a spoonful of oil in your mouth?

A: I thought it would gross me out too! I thought I would gag. I took a spoonful of castor oil when I was trying to induce labor during my 3rd pregnancy, and I still get queasy thinking about it. But when I tried oil-pulling, it just felt like swishing water. It didn’t feel like oil. So it was fine.

Q: I can’t do it for 20 minutes. How do you manage?

A. I think this is the deal breaker for most people who try it. Twenty minutes is a long time. It works for me, because we have a morning routine where Ben Blair drives the kids to school while I tidy up — making beds, doing the breakfast dishes, starting the laundry, etc. I put the oil in when they leave the house and set my phone timer for 2o minutes, then I get to work. The times flies by. If I didn’t have this routine, I probably would have abandoned my oil-pulling experiment.

Q: Have you seen any benefits?

A. Yes. Nothing crazy miraculous, but I can see my teeth are whiter, with less plaque, and I feel like my breath is better for sure. I noticed the breath thing right away. Ben Blair and I are careful to talk to each other in the mornings with our mouths shielded so we don’t have to smell each other’s morning breath, but with the oil-pulling, the morning breath is much better. Not minty fresh, just neutral.

This is less measurable, but my teeth are no longer as sensitive. During my pregnancy with Betty (about 8 years ago), overnight my teeth became really sensitive and I could no longer rinse my mouth out with cold water. Seriously, it happened overnight. It was crazy. Since then, I’ve used Sensodyne toothpaste and that has helped some — it sort of takes the edge off. But I feel like my teeth are much less sensitive since the oil-pulling.

Lastly, this one is vague, but my teeth feel stronger. Like they are more firmly rooted in my mouth.

Q: What oil do you use?

I use Coconut Oil. Cold-pressed, extra-virgin, unrefined. (This is the brand that my grocery store carries. But I’m not necessarily loyal to it.) One day, I was curious and tried olive oil instead. I didn’t like the taste as much, but I did like how my teeth felt, and I liked that it didn’t have to melt first. Also, it left my lips super soft.

Q: Do you ever brush your teeth anymore?

Once in awhile. I oil-pull in the morning, and sometimes at night, if my teeth feel coated or grimy, I’ll brush with water. When I was traveling this last week, I didn’t bring my jar of oil, and instead thought I would just use toothbrush and paste. But after two days I was dying. My mouth was grossing me out. So my brother-in-law, Steve, picked up a jar of coconut oil for me and I oil-pulled during the rest of my trip.

Q: What about flossing?

Well, this is another reason why I think I personally really like oil-pulling. Flossing has always been a really hard habit for me to form. I seem to have strong enamel on my teeth — for most of my life, I’ve eaten way more sugar than I should, but I rarely if ever get a cavity (alas, my kids did not seem to inherit my enamel genes). And flossing doesn’t seem to make a difference either way. Some years I’ve been good at flossing and other years not so good, and I end up with the same results during my dental visits. So it’s hard to convince myself of the benefits of flossing for me personally. I know every body is different and there are people who see great dental health improvements from flossing — but I’m not one of them.

I have tried flossing a couple of times after I oil pull to see if anything is getting left behind, but the oil pulling seems to do a really thorough job of cleaning.

Q: Have you tried to fill in a cavity?

No. We have not attempted any cavity filling. But I’d love to hear if you have success with it. I’d be really curious to have a dentist try it with someone that has a mild cavity. Have them oil pull for a month and see if it makes a difference. Though really, many of the posts I read said the cavity miracles happened with a combination of oil-pulling + drinking raw milk. So who knows.

Q. Does your mouth feel oily after instead of minty fresh?

My mouth actually feels very clean afterwards. Fresh but not minty. Ben Blair likes the minty feel, so sometimes he’ll rinse with mouthwash after. But I don’t like mouthwash — it feels too harsh. Sometimes I do miss that minty feeling. I wonder if chewing on mint leaves would help…

Q. Where did you read about oil-pulling?

I started with this blog post, then started exploring from there. She includes links within the blog post, and there are links in the comments as well. Or, a quick search produces all sorts of relevant articles. There are also 2 books that come up over and over again in the blog posts — one called Cure Tooth Decay, and one called Oil-Pulling Therapy — though I haven’t read either.


I think that’s it for now! If you have more questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. And I’d love to hear: Have you tried it? Are you curious about it? Is it too hippie for you to handle? Has anyone reading tried it for a long period? If yes, how is it going? Or did you give it up? And lastly, have you ever tried something casually, maybe out of curiosity, and then adopted the practice for real? Chime in!


P.S. — It feels good to be back home after a week in Salt Lake City and to have a real work day today. One of the things I’ll be doing today is re-reading comments from last week’s posts and responding as much as possible. Thanks for your patience while I was sort-of absentee last week. : )

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{ 281 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Yvette January 27, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Do you know what the science is behind oil pulling? Meaning, scientifically, what is happening to clean your mouth? I’m skeptical, but curious too!


2 Design Mom January 27, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Not sure at all. Some one described it as the oil absorbing the bits of food and bacteria from your mouth. Another described it as your teeth being porous, and the oil coating the teeth and filling the pores, preventing harm from coming to them.

I added in 2 books that were recommended about oil pulling — I haven’t read either, but I’m guessing that they cover the science behind it.


3 Christine January 28, 2014 at 1:48 pm

It’s an ancient Ayurvedic practice called Kavala Gandoosha or Kavala Graha. Traditionally, sesame oil is used but I’ve read that sunflower and coconut oils also work. The lauric acid in the oil is shown to have anti-bacterial properties (anti-fungal and anti-viral, as well) which reduce the bacteria (the main bacterium being strep) in the mouth. Here’s the abstract from a study on the NIH’s website: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18408265. I don’t think the Indians make any claims about filling cavities but it definitely helps with halitosis and gingivitis. I still brush though, using baking soda.

When shopping for coconut oil, look for organic, cold-pressed and unrefined on the label.

And, you know … the hippies were right about a lot of things (sustainability, anyone?).


4 Katie R March 5, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Hi Yvette!
I was just curious if it’s something I could do at night time instead of the morning. The stuff I am reading says to do in the morning. I’m a night owl and don’t have a scheduled morning so I would stick to doing it at night if that’s something that is normal.


5 Leanndra March 7, 2014 at 1:53 am

Your supposed to do it before eating or drinking anything! So night wouldn’t work. Try adding to your routine. Like while your showering or doing make up!? Something that takes about 20 min, may help you get used to it too. :)


6 Melissa January 27, 2014 at 1:11 pm

I don’t know the science behind it, but I do know that ancient Greeks cleansed with olive oil. http://www.greekmedicine.net/hygiene/The_Greco-Roman_Bath.html

For the past few weeks, I’ve put a dab of coconut oil on my toothbrush under the paste and I’ve felt so much cleaner (this was my gateway to see if I’d hate the oil feeling….but there really is NO oily feeling). Totally trying oil pulling now.


7 Design Mom January 27, 2014 at 1:16 pm

I was thinking about that. Humans have been around for eons and eons, but toothbrushes have only been in common practice for how long? Maybe a century? So historically, how did people clean their teeth? I can’t imagine the teeth simply rotted out by 30. That doesn’t make sense from an evolutionary stand point. Interesting.


8 Jillian L January 27, 2014 at 1:33 pm

I don’t know about how humans used to clean teeth, but I did hear on NPR recently about this study that actually disproves the long-held belief that tooth decay started with the farming age. The study from Oxford showed rampant tooth decay in hunter-gatherers- mostly because of the starch in their diets from things like acorns. http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2014/140107_1.html

Some interesting quotes:
“These people’s mouths were often affected by both cavities in the teeth and abscesses, and they would have suffered from frequent toothache.”
“The acorns may have been boiled or ground to make flour; cooking the acorns would have added to their stickiness, and abrasive particles from grindstones contributed to rapid tooth wear so that caries started to form on the roots of the teeth.”
Ouch!! Glad we have dental care widely available now :)

I’d love to see practicing dentists weigh in here- I wonder if they’ve heard of oil pulling before.


9 Denise February 4, 2014 at 6:30 pm

My husband is a dentist and he said the foods eaten at this time were not processed like our foods now. The food was very course and fibrous and gritty and the teeth would wear down on the chewing surface and in between. To maintain the teeth contacting together teeth would migrate in a foraward direction ( this is why most people now a days may have straight teeth and by age 30 or 40 the lower front teeth begin to get crowded. This forward migration of teeth still happens today)…As the teeth would wear down and migrate forward, then the wisdom teeth (third molars) would come in around age 17 or 18 and that prehistoric person would now have a fresh set of 4 molars to eat with. No teeth meant dying from starvation…Cavities and gum disease was almost non-existent because of the diet not having any refined sugars to feed the bacteria. (Bacteria produce acid as their waste product and this is what causes tooth decay)…The diet kept the teeth clean. But If the oils have anti bacterial properties then this would help just like Listerine….


10 DNA January 27, 2014 at 2:14 pm

For most of human history, if you made it to 30 you were lucky. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy


11 Meg S January 27, 2014 at 2:37 pm

This number is actually so low though because of the high number of people that died in infancy. A lot of people made it past thirty.


12 Design Mom January 27, 2014 at 2:52 pm

I agree with Meg. There are too many descriptions of gray-haired wizened elders in our human histories for me to believe age 30 was old age.


13 Blogful January 27, 2014 at 6:06 pm

I thought major tooth decay began when people’s diets started including more sugar, especially refined sugar. Don’t ask for a date here, but evolutionarily (is that a word?) it’s been really recent. Back me up someone?

14 Melissa January 27, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Yep, historian here. Humans lived for a very long time and what we often call a “life expectancy” is actually an average. It’s not the length of time a person can live to in their old age, it’s just an raw average of ages of death. When you remove the large numbers of children who died before age 5, life expectancy shoots up to the 70s and 80s easily.

Also, the acorn thing isn’t a widespread deal. It’s localized. Usually, in anthropology if you see a skeleton with crooked or damaged teeth you start asking questions because the largest majority have straight, decent looking teeth. The amount of people who need braces today should be a huge wake up call to us, because the ancients mostly wouldn’t have needed them.

15 Matt Bramanti January 31, 2014 at 8:49 am

“There are too many descriptions of gray-haired wizened elders in our human histories for me to believe age 30 was old age.”

They were the 30-year-olds.

16 Geertrui January 28, 2014 at 6:16 am

Here in Ghana people use a stick from a certain tree to brush their teeth. They chew one end until it becomes fiber much like the hairs on a toothbrush and clean their teeth with that end. I haven’t tried it yet but it looks quite appealing, all natural!


17 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 10:37 am

Fascinated by the twig brushes! Now I want to see one in action — or even better, try one myself.


18 Claire January 29, 2014 at 12:16 am

Licorice stick or twig- you can usually find them in bulk (so like three cents each) at your local co-ops or herb/natural med stores

19 Mark Frisk January 29, 2014 at 9:06 am
20 J January 29, 2014 at 11:02 am

outside biblical oddities, people really didn’t live very long….


21 k March 6, 2014 at 6:14 pm

A Shorter lifespan was actually due to lack of proper shelter/natural disasters rather than teeth care/ diet.


22 Laura Sue January 27, 2014 at 6:55 pm

I’m curious enough about the oil that I might try it, but I have something to offer on the historical front. I learned a few years ago about brushing with twigs, which (google it!) people have done on every continent for thousands of years. In India they use peelu and neem sticks. Here in the southern US, dogwood, oak and sassafras are the tradition in some areas. I’ve tried dogwood (Cornus florida) and it works GREAT! If I weren’t so lazy, I’d keep a supply of twigs and use nothing else. With twigs, there’s no need for toothpaste or floss. The twig does it all.

You need a twig just about 4″ to 5″ long and about half the diameter of a pencil. Strip the bark from the end, then gently bite down/chew on the end until it gets sort of a frayed look. Now you’re ready to brush your teeth. Rub the end on your teeth, getting the whole surface, and taking care to be gentle around the gum-line. You’ll be amazed at how clean it gets your teeth, I promise.


23 JessK January 27, 2014 at 1:14 pm

I find this so interesting! But I’m not quite sure I’m up to trying it myself yet. Maybe because I am currently pregnant and most things involving my mouth lead to a strong gag reflex these days.

Can I please request an update on oil pulling after your next dental cleaning? I’m curious about the long-term results!


24 Design Mom January 27, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Definitely! I’ll be sure to report after my next dentist visit.


25 Bean's Mom January 27, 2014 at 1:22 pm

I started oil pulling after I read about it on your blog! My husband thought I was crazy, but I told him I trusted you. ;-) The plain solid oil felt a little gross to me in my mouth so I melt it beforehand in a Dixie cup in the microwave and add a couple drops of peppermint oil to it to get that familiar minty taste.


26 Design Mom January 27, 2014 at 1:29 pm

So smart to melt it! The chunk of oil in my mouth is my least favorite part as well.


27 Summer January 29, 2014 at 10:43 am

First off, I’m totally trying this too. I’m scared – i have awful teeth – but i’ll test it out (with flossing, bc I HAVE to floss).

Anyway, just a tip – I keep a tub of coconut oil in the bathroom anyway for a pre-conditioner treatment, and I just put the blow dryer on it for a bit to melt it down. Works great! (By May, it will be in liquid form 24/7 in my house though. Ah, Texas.)


28 faw February 26, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Just a thought – might microwaving damage the beneficial properties?


29 Lucy March 4, 2014 at 1:14 pm

I have been reading about this the last hour and have a jar of coconut oils sitting right next to me. The thing is I read initially was like. DON’T USE THE MICROWAVE, you will die of the radioactive cancer cells. I use it for my skin but I had put the jar (minus the lid) in the microwave so it is stopping me from trying it today.
Does anyone know the truth behind that? I kept thinking I should go get a new jar but I am a student who doesn’t really have an extra ten bucks to spend.


30 Mello March 5, 2014 at 3:52 pm

You’re not going to die from swishing microwaved oil in your mouth. Think of the amount of microwaved food eaten around the world every day. The concern is that the microwave can reduce the effectiveness of the oil, not that it will kill you. Swish away


31 Kate March 8, 2014 at 9:02 am

Just set the jar in a bit of hot water before using it to melt the oil and you won’t have to worry about whether or not microwaving it will hurt. I think the main reason is because it can break down the effective properties in the oil (Lauric acid). There are is a higher content of Lauric acid in UNREFINED coconut oil so that’s the best form if you can get your hands on it. Hope this helps :)


32 Tracy March 6, 2014 at 8:53 am

Just be careful about melting it ahead of time. While it seems like a really good idea, when you heat the oil, you burn off a lot of the healthy qualities of the oil. That is why raw oil is the best, because it has not yet been heated, therefore it keeps all the essential vitamins and minerals. I know the first couple times are rough, trying to get used to the solid until it melts, but it does get easier, I promise!! =)


33 Mary Ann January 27, 2014 at 1:26 pm

I was fascinated with your original post and went out right away to try oil pulling myself. I read the link you listed and did my own investigating. I couldn’t really find anything negative about it although the list of possible benefits did vary a lot! So far, I’ve continued to brush my teeth once daily as well. 20 minutes of swishing is really hard for me – I can usually do about 15 minutes. The gag impulse has settled down now that I am used to “chewing the oil.” Once the oil is liquid, it is not greasy at all and feels really good on my teeth. My facial muscles were also a bit sore after the first few times but now I’m basically totally buff in the cheeks. After a few weeks, my teeth definitely seem whiter but unlike you, I think they are actually more sensitive. Not sure what to make of that. Maybe the brushing and the oil pulling is just too much? I’ve actually changed to oil pulling every other day and that seems to be working well. At my last dentist visit, there were two tiny dark spots on my molars which my dentist said would likely progress to cavities (I don’t have any cavities yet at 38) but I’ve noticed that one of them is gone now! Hopefully the other one will disappear, too. It’s a few more months until my next professional cleaning but I’m anxious to see what difference this makes. It sure seems like I have less plaque and my flossing is easier. Thanks so much for posting about this. At the very least I am starting 2014 being much more aware of my toothy routine!


34 Design Mom January 27, 2014 at 1:31 pm

So interesting! I hope you’ll keep us updated on the dark spots. The idea of being able to repair cavities seems like such a hopeful thing!


35 KJS January 28, 2014 at 6:01 am

I tried it once, and was embarrassed my facial muscles were sore too, I thought maybe I had too much oil in my mouth. I will try it again. I have the same feeling about coconut oil when I use it in cold smoothies, it ends up as chunks of solid oil. That’s my least favorite part.


36 Amanda January 27, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Try adding a drop of peppermint essential oil to your oil for some minty freshness. :)


37 Design Mom January 27, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Genius idea! I’ll have to try it.


38 Carrie January 27, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Oil pulling makes my teeth whiter and removes the tartar I always have gotten in between my two front teeth. Sold!


39 Sabrina January 27, 2014 at 1:41 pm

My mom has been oil pulling on an off for years. And just recently, I’ve been reading more and more about the benefits. It’s all so fascinating!


40 Design Mom January 27, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I’m curious how your mom happened to try oil pulling. Did she hear about it from a particular source? I guess I’m curious about the history of it, since it’s so new-to-me.


41 Sabrina January 28, 2014 at 12:44 pm

She’s a certified naturopath and has been practicing for years. I’m guessing oil pulling is just one of the many things she does in her practice. I’ve never tried it, but I’ve heard so many good things about it. I’ve also heard it helps with other ailments in the body too like digestive problems, nausea, acne and sinus issues.


42 steph rawlins January 27, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Interesting. I read Trina Holden’s blog post about oil-pulling back in June and thought it loony, but now I’m curious… almost curious enough to try it. We’ll see :)


43 barchbo January 27, 2014 at 1:43 pm

I tried it for a week then we transitioned my son out of crib so sleep is haywire at our house. My oil pulling time was in the early morning.

I actually love the feel of the oil in my mouth – I looked forward to doing it! (I eat for texture more than flavor.) I can’t wait until I have more dedicated time to perform it. I may have to switch to late-night.

This has been a fun experiment! Can’t wait to come back and read more comments.


44 Design Mom January 27, 2014 at 1:53 pm

I hear you. I think finding the right time of day is everything. Otherwise, it feels like a chore.


45 Dorothee January 27, 2014 at 3:04 pm

I was wondering when does your husband oil pull in the morning? Does he have it fit into his routine as well? Since I am currently at home alone in the mornings with my two young children – I’m curious about other routines.


46 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 10:39 am

Ben usually oil-pulls after he’s done with the school drop off. He’ll put in the oil before he steps into the shower, then keeps swishing as he gets dressed. If he’s finished before getting ready for the day before the 20 minutes are up, he’ll grab his phone and enjoy a few minutes of instagram/facebook till he’s done.


47 Beth January 27, 2014 at 1:48 pm

What about gum disease? It seems to me that without flossing or brushing along your gum line you would be more susceptible to it.


48 Design Mom January 27, 2014 at 1:56 pm

I don’t know the science behind, but the oil-pulling really does seem to do a great job of actually cleaning — even along the gumline.

But I’d be interested in hearing from a dentist who has seen a patient before and after a month of oil pulling. I’d love a professional opinion on whether or not the cleaning is effective.

On some of the blog posts I read, the author would mention his or her dentist was surprised at the positive outcome, but I want to hear from a dentist I actually know.


49 Amanda January 27, 2014 at 8:02 pm

As a dental hygienist with an interest in natural alternatives, I can only add that flossing is to clean underneath your gums, where rinsing cannot reach. I can’t say for certain because I haven’t read any research re: flossing vs oilpulling, but flossing is able to thoroughly clean underneath the gums (up to 3mm that may not be attached and plaque enters) more than any other technique. That said, it doesn’t mean brushing is superior to oil pulling, it just means for a thorough prevention of gum disease some additional attention could be required to remove plaque below the gums! Keep up with the oil pulling for sure :) Also, everyone’s prone to gum disease at a different level, just like decay…


50 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 10:41 am

“everyone’s prone to gum disease at a different level, just like decay…”

I’ve been thinking about this and it makes sense. I’m sure there are many who try oil-pulling who could benefit from some supplementary flossing as well, and others who might not see a difference either way.


51 Susan January 27, 2014 at 1:49 pm

How interesting! I will try this.

Since you did an earlier post about cleansing your face, I wanted to give you another use for your large tub of coconut oil—-washing your face.

I have been doing this for months now and my skin has never been more beautiful. Here is what I do. In the morning I splash with warm water, take a knob of coconut oil and rub it in my hands to melt it, then massage it in. Use a dampened (warm) washcloth to remove it. Voila! Glowing skin. You can also just rub a bit between your hands and apply like moisturiser whenever needed. Use any remaining on the ends of your hair to banish frizz, to moisturize your lips, and soften your hands and cuticles.

Coconut oil has replaced all kinds of beauty products for me. It is way cheaper and much more effective than all those lab concoctions with ingredients you can’t pronounce.


52 Liliana January 28, 2014 at 9:10 am

Just curious. Do you still apply moisturizer after you wash your face with coconut oil? Or is it not necessary anymore?


53 sarah January 28, 2014 at 11:34 am

I have had several friends who used coconut oil to wash their faces, some who had dry skin and some who were acne prone and said it cured their acne, and they were all very excited about it.

I, however, found it worked abysmally badly for me. I have sensitive and dryish but also acne prone skin. For the first week or so my face looked great. Then I started breaking out. I thought that maybe it had to do with impurities coming to the surface, and I kept going for a little more than a month – and my skin looked awful the whole time after the first week. So, be careful with using this on your face! It could be awesome, but if your normal regime works ok and you have sensitive or acne prone skin you may want to think twice.


54 Stephanie January 30, 2014 at 12:54 am

I had the same problem and did some research and found that doing a combination of oils with an astringent (like lavender essential oil) worked better for some skin types than just coconut oil alone. I use grapeseed and coconut oils with lavender. :)


55 Jeanette January 27, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I, too, began oil pulling. Two things I had to get used to were the time factor and the mintiness=cleanliness notion. Twenty minutes seemed too long for my first attempt, but after a few days I was able to work up to it. And once I realized that my breath was much more pleasant, my teeth were a bit whiter, and my lips were conditioned, it was easier to make the switch. I like the idea of adding essential oils! Not sure if I’ll do it forever, but I have seen it’s benefits.


56 Sarah January 27, 2014 at 2:25 pm

It hurts my face!
But now I want to give it another go.


57 Ilaria January 27, 2014 at 2:25 pm

This got me really curious! I read a bit about it and I like what I read. I’d like to try it but I’ll have to find a time that suit. I do not have coconut oil at hand but sesam oil and sunflower oil. I know that sesam oil has some great properties as well. It is all so facinating!
Thanks for sharing!


58 Kimber January 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

I’ve been wondering about this for a while. And I’m the same with flossing. Every time I go to the dentist, they go crazy over how great my teeth look, then ask how often I floss … never.


59 Design Mom January 27, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Hah! I hear you.

Having kids has also made me realize how little control I have of their dental experiences. They all have essentially the same diet, and the same dental habits, and the same assistance from their parents (helping them brush their teeth until they are competently able to themselves), but they have vastly different dental outcomes. Some have had big issues with decaying teeth, and others have a more typical experience.


60 Azra January 27, 2014 at 2:32 pm

I have never heard of it, but I am curious to try it.


61 Amber January 27, 2014 at 2:33 pm

I’m curious to try this. I already wash my face with coconut oil, so it’s sitting on my bathroom counter. I’ve given up shampoo and deodorant as well, may as well give up toothpaste next!


62 Sarah S March 6, 2014 at 10:37 am

Amber – How do you wash your face with Coconut Oil? Is it the oil that is solid at room temp? I’m so used to using a liquid soap that I don’t understand how this would work, but I’d love to try!


63 sarah January 27, 2014 at 2:37 pm

My father, his three siblings and both my paternal grandparents all had dentures by the time they were in their 30′s and 40′s. Lack of fluoride? infrequent visits to the dentist, poor nutrition, luck of the Irish?
Anyhoo, I read your first blog post on oil pulling and tried it once. I couldn’t handle the “chewing” of the cold coconut oil, but I didn’t mind how it made my mouth feel. Maybe I’ll try it again :)


64 Tori January 27, 2014 at 2:41 pm

I laughed out loud at the “most hippie thing I’ve ever done” preface. Something very similar has come out of my mouth before I’m sure.

I’d for sure try it, though it kinda makes me sick to my stomach thinking about a spoonful of oil in my mouth. Who knows though, never say never!


65 Melissa January 27, 2014 at 9:08 pm

The nice thing about coconut oil is that it’s not “oily” like you might expect.


66 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 10:42 am

This surprised me too!


67 Kirsty January 27, 2014 at 2:43 pm

This made me laugh because of the coincidence-I happened upon upon a blog post in early December (have no idea how) on oil pulling and posted the link on facebook saying I was curious. A few of my friends tried and liked it but I only just started last week but I’m loving it! I do brush my teeth after but maybe I will stop now that I have read your style. My teeth have also been so super sensitive since I had my 5th and I have been using rx toothpaste to no avail to try to ease it . Since oil pulling suddenly the sensitivity is all but gone. I love it and I like to think the swishing (push and pull especially) is a good facial exercise :) I was about to post about this on my own blog, you beat me to it! ;)


68 Nancy January 27, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Trying it now. Two minutes downs: 18 to go. The whole concept of cleaning with oil seems counterintuitive until I remember the story of my great-grandmother who saved all her leftover cooking grease to make her own soap in a big boiling pot on her front lawn. Thanks for sharing!


69 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 10:43 am

So true. I think we have given oil and fats a bad rap over the last couple of decades, but of course, our bodies need oils and fats to thrive.


70 Lindsay January 27, 2014 at 2:55 pm

I’ve been wanting to try it but fear that without a fluoride toothpaste I’ll be setting myself up for cavities. I have a mouthful of expensive dental work! But you’ve peaked my curiosity. I always have coconut oil in the cabinet so what the heck!


71 Lynne from Design The Life You Want to Live January 27, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Gabrielle !

I’m sooooo happy you shared this ! Believe it or not , at 49 years old.. I have braces this year. Oh la la.

A friend of mine told me about oil pulling and how FAB it is. I was just sitting on the fence wondering if I should go for it.

I am definitely giving it a whirl now. She swears by it too.

Thanks for the nudge in the coconut oil direction :)

Bisous !!

Lynne xx


72 ann January 27, 2014 at 4:30 pm


I got braces at age 49 and am so pleased I did. That was three years ago.



73 Jill January 27, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Please don’t stop at least flossing your teeth. Gum disease leads to bone loss which leads to tooth loss if you don’t clean between the teeth and under the gums. I am a dental assistant (25 years). If you don’t brush and floss make sure you consult with your orthodontist. I wouldn’t risk your teeth and money.


74 Mr. Nosuch January 27, 2014 at 3:05 pm

What sort of dreadful advertising network do you use that so aggressively redirects to porn sites when visiting with an iPad? And twice redirected to an App Store entry. Absolutely atrocious.


75 Design Mom January 27, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Hmm. My ad network is Federated Media and they would never redirect to a porn site. You are the first person to ever tell me they reached a porn site from clicking an ad on Design Mom.

The ads you are seeing when you look at the site, and the ads I see are different. They are based on things like cookies on our browsers and a history of the sites we’ve visited. If you can please describe the ad you are clicking, I would happy to make an inquiry with FM.


76 Mr. Nosuch January 27, 2014 at 4:05 pm

I can come to the site with the browser set in privacy mode (no cookies sent) and I get porn pop ups. It’s absolutely your ads alone. Go visit the site with an iPad. It’s brutal.

It’s possible there after legit ads with JavaScript that only fires on mobile with this junk, and the ad network may not even know. It has happened before. If you are skeptical, I can send a video. Keep in mind, this is an iPad, so there’s no malware involved here.


77 Ania January 27, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Mr. Nosuch – I’ve been reading this site (daily) exclusively on my iPad for a couple of years and I never got a single ad sending me to a porn website. Just because it is an iPad doesn’t mean it is absolutely secure and free of malware. You may want to have yours evaluated thoroughly.

Gabrielle, thanks for starting this topic. I’ve been skeptical of oil pulling too because of my science background (growing back teeth?!) but tried it after your first post and I’m loving the results thus far. My husband and kids want to try it now! I have been using coconut oil as body lotion and deodorant! Loving these applications too :)


78 ilda January 28, 2014 at 10:17 am

I am sorry to say, but I am also on iPad and there are days that it is impossible to visit designmom as the porn pop ups come up constantly. Other days all goes smoothly! In case it may be of interest, I am in Europe.

As for this topic, thanks for sharing! I have started this morning!!!

79 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 10:46 am

Ania, ilda – Thanks for adding your feedback.

Ilda, Mr. Nosuch – Since I can’t see what you’re seeing, instead of continuing this conversation in the middle of the oil-pulling conversation, please do send me a screen grab of the offending ads (gabrielle @ designmom.com), and I will look into it right away.

80 Victoria Olson January 28, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Your iPad’s reaction to this site sounds like a classic a case malware, Mr. NoSuch. Apple may deny such things exist for the iPad, but I’d take my iPad to visit the Genius Bar and show them what’s going on, unless of course it’s jailbroken.


81 Julie R January 27, 2014 at 3:09 pm

So fascinating! I’d heard of it before, but wasn’t too convinced. Now I’m totally going to try it!


82 Shalene January 27, 2014 at 3:11 pm

I’ve read about this for a few years now, and it’s always intrigued me, though I’ve never tried it. I think I’m curious enough now to give it a go! I’m also currently reading one of the books you mentioned, Cure Tooth Decay. So far, it’s informative, and a lot of what the author has to say rings true to me and what I know about nutrition. He’s also a proponent of Weston A. Price, which we follow to some extent (though not strictly). Regarding the science of it, I’ve never looked into the scientific explanation for oil-pulling, but I do know that the science behind the oil-cleansing method (for face washing) is that oil dissolves oil. So when you rub a blend of oils onto your face, they blend with the natural oils in your skin to dissolve dirt and make-up. I’ve been using the oil-cleansing method for a year now and love it. Perhaps the science behind oil pulling is similar? Maybe the chemical make up of oil is similar to the chemical make up of plaque, so the oil binds with the plaque to dissolve it? I may be WAY off base, but it’s a thought!


83 Lisa January 27, 2014 at 3:12 pm

So funny! I was just reading about oil pulling 2 days ago, but didnt dare to try! The coconut oil is sitting on my counter. untouched.
The article I read, said you shouldnt eat before you do the pulling. How do you handle it? Or do you have any information about it? Do you think the time of the day matters?


84 Tabitha March 14, 2015 at 12:15 pm

The time of day doesn’t really matter. It’s just preferred if you have an empty stomach because oil pulling after eating could cause some nausea. I have tried it at different times of the day and it did not affect me, but if you are more sensitive it might.


85 Emily January 27, 2014 at 3:17 pm

i’ve heard of oil pulling, but have never had the guts to try it myself! but after your post, i’m definitely interested. on a side note, my husband is a dentist and he hadn’t really heard of this before i brought it up to him a while ago. maybe i’ll give it a try for a while and have him check my mouth before and after :) and on a side note, my husband told me that anciently people used to chew on different types of sticks and twigs to clean their teeth. this would scrape any plaque off and help to keep their teeth clean after eating.


86 Design Mom January 27, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Oh. I hope you try it, Emily! And I hope you get a before and after evaluation from your husband. I’m so curious!


87 Hannah Q January 27, 2014 at 3:31 pm

I’m definitely interested, but I’m a librarian, so I had to do some research on this and found some randomized, triple-blind scientific studies in our health databases. They indicated that oil pulling (they used sesame oil) was a good preventative oral care method, on par with the “gold standard” mouthwash they used on one group in the study. It did mention in more than one study I looked at that teeth should be brushed after oil pulling. I love the idea of using something natural, but personally, I think I’ll try this in addition to brushing instead of as a replacement.


88 Hatsuho January 27, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I just tried this and couldn’t make it past 5 minutes because my mouth was producing so much saliva as I swished, that I had to keep spitting so I wouldn’t gag.


89 Kellee | FreeTime, Ltd. January 27, 2014 at 3:37 pm

We oil pull at our house too. My husband started it when he had a filling fall out and we were in very desperate financial times (read: no money for the dentist). Coconut oil has natural anti-bacterial properties, so he started using it as a mouthwash in an attempt to ward off infection in that tooth until we were able to afford a new filling. Over a year went by before we were able to afford the dentist, and when he finally made it in the dentist was amazed that he’d been able to go so long with a gaping hole in his tooth!

I started oil pulling after discovering that I have allergies to a particular ingredient found in many toothpastes (triclosan, which is a known toxin: avoid it when you can). I started by just brushing with baking soda, which works really well too, but it’s a little tricky to get used to the salty flavor (at least for me). But what I really liked about the baking soda was the way that it made my mouth feel so much cleaner than toothpaste ever did. Not that I ever felt like toothpaste *wasn’t* making my mouth clean… but in comparison to the baking soda, toothpaste felt more like it was masking than cleaning. Does that make sense? Anyway, no more toothpaste for me. I much prefer natural solutions!

As has been mentioned previously in the comments here, people had ways to keep themselves clean before companies like Johnson & Johnson came along, we’ve just largely forgotten what those ways were. I feel like so often we’re sold on the IDEA of clean. For example, we all kind of believe that minty = clean because that’s what the commercials tell us. But really, minty = minty, which is nice… but doesn’t necessarily mean it’s doing a better job of cleaning anything.

In the last couple of years, I’ve swapped out several “traditional” beauty products for homemade all-natural ones. I’m always skeptical to try it, but in EVERY case, I’ve found the homemade options to be far superior. I make a homemade deodorant (which also uses coconut oil as a main ingredient) and it is the most effective underarm product I’ve ever used (and I am no delicate sweater). I sweat far less with it, even though it’s not even technically an anti-perspirant. And I wash my face with a combo of avocado oil and castor oil, also to fantastic results.


90 the truth January 27, 2014 at 3:38 pm

have any of you people stopped for a single moment to think about how absolutely incredibly clean and bright white your teeth would be if you brushed your teeth for 20 minutes ?!!!

Think about what you are saying here .

the cleanliness of your teeth have to do with plaque , plaque forms a barrier on a surface , its akin to grease on a plate or cup in the sink its not about the type of soap or how much you use , no it is instead about the duration of time spent working the barrier physically off the surface its been temporarily adhered to .

You do not need any sort of paste or oil in fact in you just vigorously blasted it with 20 minutes with all sorts of different shaped micro objects – sand blasting , power washing is the action you are seeking .

are you under the assumption now that swishing for 20 minutes oil vs mouthwash oil would win ? or oil vs tooth paste ? oil the win again?

Im thinking its more about the 1/3 of an hour you spent effectively power washing your mouth thats the big change


91 Kellee | FreeTime, Ltd. January 27, 2014 at 3:59 pm

We oil pull at my house, but not for anywhere near 20 minutes, and we still have amazing results. There’s also more to a clean mouth than plaque. Getting rid of the bacteria in your mouth is also important, and coconut oil (a natural anti-bacterial) is a great way to do that. Personally, I don’t oil pull because I think it does a *better* job necessarily, but because it does a fantastic job with a single, all-natural ingredient. I prefer that to the questionable ingredients in traditional toothpastes and mouthwashes.


92 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 10:54 am

I’m not sure this topic warrants such a passionate anonymous response. I’m going to pretend you left a comment with a name that said something similar, but with less exclamation points. Something like:

I wonder if the 20 minutes is the major factor here. If you brushed your teeth for 20 minutes, would you see the same benefits?

And this would be my response:

I’m guessing that yes, the 20 minutes does factor in. In fact, one blog post I read mentioned there was a study looking into the effectiveness of swishing water for 20 minutes instead of oil. (I didn’t see the study myself, but apparently, even without the oil, the swishing is somewhat effective.)

But as for brushing for 20 minutes, I couldn’t do it. My gums would deteriorate too quickly.

And really, 20 minutes feels very long some mornings, but if I add up the time it takes me to properly brush and floss and rinse twice a day, it’s pretty darn close to 20 minutes.


93 Mr. Bauld January 28, 2014 at 11:49 am

swishing anything in your mouth for 20 minutes hardly constitutes “power washing” or “sand blasting”. also, if you were to brush your teeth for 20 minutes, you would seriously wear your teeth down. not good.

plus, I don’t see anyone here going into oil pulling for the whitening effect. I see everyone saying that they noticed that their teeth were whiter as a side effect after they oil pulled for some time. totally different.


94 Josephine January 27, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I really want to try this and I just got a huge, new tub of coconut oil. Perfect timing!


95 Jess. January 27, 2014 at 3:49 pm

So excited to try this with my husband. I had coconut oil in my Amazon basket, and I was waiting for your post. I’ve already placed my order, and I’m not even done reading the post. Hopefully this will help my poor man’s hurting teeth. Thanks for sharing your experience, even if it does make you blush. No shame!


96 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 10:56 am

Pain relief for teeth is one thing I’m very curious about as far as oil pulling goes. I feel like that is a consistent comment or story I read as I wandered through the oil-pulling rabbit hole. Lots of people seem to have immediate relief from toothaches with oil pulling.


97 jovana January 27, 2014 at 3:50 pm

i read the same blog post about oil pulling by clicking through one of your posts (about finding out how crunchy we are), and i was intrigued. kind of almost disgusted by the idea of plain oil in my mouth, but intrigued because i strongly feel that natural is healthier. and i happen to hate the aftertaste i get from toothpaste. i hardly ever brush my teeth in the morning cause it changes the taste of my breakfast. i must confess i was slightly turned off by how crunchy the idea of it sounds, which is stupid i know, especially because i already cloth diaper. i’ve heard that in my grandparents’ time people in rural areas used baking soda to clean their teeth and chewed on cloves to improve their breath. i occasionally remember that story and consider trying the baking soda thing, but i haven’t actually got around to it yet. your post sounds very genuine and i’m seriously considering both of the natural options now. i hope to get pregnant again soon, and since my teeth were also very sensitive during my first pregnancy, i might try it then. maybe i’ll end up doing it my entire pregnancy, maybe for the rest of my life, who knows, but i’m opet to it.


98 Kellee | FreeTime, Ltd. January 27, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I brushed my teeth with baking soda for years. I never liked the taste of the baking soda in my mouth *while* I was brushing (it’s salty), but I got used to it. And I much preferred the aftertaste (like you, I don’t care for toothpaste’s aftertaste), which was more neutral and just felt clean. Baking soda is also a natural whitener, so there’s that.

If you decided to try it, know that you don’t need much. A little goes a long way. You can also mix it with a bit of water it a small bowl before putting it on your brush. Then it’s kind of like brushing your teeth with salt water. (Which, I realize, doesn’t make it sound terribly appetizing, but it can be a bit milder that way than just brushing with the dry soda.)

I was raised by hippies, so the idea of “crunchy” never bothered me much, but I know for a lot of people it’s something of a leap. Don’t be afraid to try it though; if you don’t like it, you can always go back to your usual routine, right? No big deal. And I bet you’ll find that at least some of those “crunchy” things end up serving you better than you’d expect. :)


99 Sarah W January 27, 2014 at 11:40 pm

I used to be a receptionist at a dental office, and one of the dentists there always told people not to brush with baking soda because it can damage your gum line. It’s too harsh I guess, or so she said. I’ve loved using baking soda for whitening, but I was cautious after I heard that. Have you seen a problem with that Kellee?


100 Kellee | FreeTime, Ltd. January 28, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Sarah, I’ve never experienced damage to my gum line from it. In fact, I always got better reports from my dentist when I was using baking soda. But I do know that some people have a sensitivity to baking soda on their skin, so it seems plausible that it would be too much for some people’s gums too. That said, I don’t use a large amount; just a pinch.


101 jovana January 29, 2014 at 5:03 am

thank you kellee, i think i’ll try it and see how it goes :)

102 amyks January 27, 2014 at 3:51 pm

So, do you do the oil-pulling once a day and that is it? I don’t think I could go to bed unless I brushed my teeth at night?


103 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 10:57 am

Isn’t it strange? Sometimes I’ll brush with water in the evening, but mostly I don’t.


104 amyks January 28, 2014 at 4:32 pm

It’s very interesting. That would take me some getting used to I think.


105 Jill January 27, 2014 at 3:57 pm

This is so intriguing, especially since I have 2 jars of “homemade” toothpaste sitting on my bathroom counter that are made with unrefined organic coconut oil, baking soda and essential oil for flavor (one jar is wintergreen, the other is grapefruit). I’ve only used it a few times, but maybe now I’ll try again!!


106 Sarah S March 6, 2014 at 10:49 am

That sounds fantastic, how did you make it? Do you use it to “brush” or “swish” ?


107 Shannon January 27, 2014 at 4:05 pm

I go to a holistic dentist, and they recommend oil pulling! In fact they never hassle me about flossing, they just tell me to oil pull more consistently :)


108 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 10:57 am

I don’t think I’ve ever met a “holistic” dentist. Now I’m curious!


109 Andrea January 27, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Is there a reason you have to spit the oil out or can you just swallow it? Coconut oil has so many health benefits, I have been known to eat a spoonful of it on occasion. It’s not bad!! :)


110 monique January 27, 2014 at 4:59 pm

From what I have read, the oil will be full of bacteria and other stuff from your mouth after 20 minutes of swishing, so unless you want to swallow all those toxins, it’s better to spit.


111 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 10:58 am

I’ve read the same as Monique. Maybe spit out the oil pulling oil, but eat a separate spoonful?


112 Laura January 27, 2014 at 4:20 pm

I just started oil pulling recently, several weeks ago. I asked a friend who works for a wholistic dentist, and she said they have seen it do amazing things for some patients, although it doesn’t work miracles for everyone. She suggested adding a drop of essential oil as well, to boost the antibiotic properties.

My “achey” tooth areas are gone, my teeth feel stronger, breath better. I just take 20 minutes from my day wherever I find it, and tell my preschoolers that mom can’t talk for the next little while. It’s fun for all of us to play charades with them when they forget and ask me a question. They’ve also taken to pretending they are swishing “white stuff” and can’t talk on occasion. Fine by me! Ha.


113 David January 27, 2014 at 4:22 pm

I use olive oil — love it.

I clean my whole face and body with olive oil using soap only occasionally with great results.


114 jovana January 29, 2014 at 5:45 am

how do you wash your face with olive oil? just rub some olive oil on your face and rinse it with water? i’m curious because tap water just makes my skin really dry, and i imagine the oil would act as a protective layer. and what does your skin smell like afterwards?


115 Clarence January 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm

I can’t talk about any science behind this (but I will start looking at peer reviewed journals tonight), but I feel the need to clarify the improper use of the word oil here. Fats are solid at room temp, oils are liquid at room temp. If you have to melt it from room temp, it’s a saturated fat. That is all.


116 Caryn January 27, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Interesting clarification. I never thought of that. Coconut oil is liquid at room temp as well though. It hardens in cold weather.


117 Christine January 28, 2014 at 1:59 pm

My coconut oil is solid at room temperature, 68 degrees.


118 Naomi February 20, 2014 at 5:49 am

Coconut oil is a saturated fat that melts at about 75 degrees or so. There is no standard room temperature. Room temperature varies from one home to another, depending on where one sets his thermostat. Christine’s room temp is 68 degrees, Clarence’s is obviously in the upper 70′s, which will make a difference in the solidity of the oil/fat. It probably is called an oil because in the tropics where coconut oil is produced, the oil is liquid year-round.


119 breanne January 27, 2014 at 4:44 pm

i totally want to try this! i have always HATED brushing my teeth, something about the toothpaste really grosses me out and i am truly skeeved out by chemicals. i’m almost out of my toothpaste! perfect! thanks gabrielle, i never would have known otherwise! xoxo


120 Susan in Peckham January 27, 2014 at 4:49 pm

I started oil pulling in early December and went to the dentist last week for a check-up and clean. My dentist noticed a difference in colour and oral hygiene (which surprised me as I was a little embarrassed to admit I was doing something so ‘weird’). She said she would investigate with her dental associations but that it seemed very positive. I have a few ‘watches’ on my teeth so I’m excited to see if the oil pulling helps to reverse them over the next six months. Thank you for writing about this!


121 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 10:59 am

Love this kind of update, Susan! Thanks for the info.


122 Jenny D. January 27, 2014 at 4:55 pm

I’ve tried oil pulling off and on, I’ve never been very consistent with it although I do like it. My first attempt was when I was recovering from a nasty cold with lots of congestion and mucus (blech!) and I was intrigued by oil pullings ability to “heal colds.” I couldn’t make it the whole 20 minutes due to my congestion, but it worked! I won’t go into details, but my nose and throat cleared up over the next hour and got a lot of relief. Ever since then if I’m suffering from a cold I’ll oil pull. We’ll see if I can do it consistently.


123 Jill January 27, 2014 at 5:31 pm

I have been a dental assistant for almost 30 years. I would suggest people consult with their dentist while doing this. If you don’t floss under the gum line you will eventually develop gum disease which leads to bone loss which leads to Roth loss. Brushing and flossing isn’t just about cavities. A sold 2 minutes of brushing your teeth and flossing a few times a week is all that is necessary.


124 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:02 am

“A sold 2 minutes of brushing your teeth and flossing a few times a week is all that is necessary.”

I so wish this worked for my kids, but even when we do this religiously, a few have still seen major tooth decay. At our house, it really does seem to be a person-by-person situation, with everyone experiencing something different.


125 Julia A January 28, 2014 at 1:21 pm

My house is the same way, my husband has never had a cavity or gum issues in his life and he never even touched floss until he was in his mid-20s, even now in his 30s it’s a rare occurrence. Me on the other hand I’m diligent with my brushing, flossing, minimal sugary substances…and my mouth is a cave of fillings *sigh* I’ve just come to terms with the fact that that my teeth are made out of chalk.

I also wonder if a oil pulling for a shorter time would be a good accompaniment to brushing (with traditional or homemade toothpaste)?…


126 Jill January 28, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Boy, I sure had a few typos in my post! :) A “solid” two minutes. It is true some people are more prone to decay. My kids have had their share of cavities filled, for sure. For adults, the main concern is gum disease, not getting cavities. Thank you for a very interesting post. I am just very skeptical about oil pulling replacing flossing. I appreciate your thoughts on this topic! Love your blog very much!


127 Kaleh February 27, 2014 at 9:10 am

About flossing being so essential – I’m a skeptic and here’s why: During my recent pregnancy I tried to get more consistent about daily consumption of a high-quality, high dose powdered probiotic. I did it at night after brushing teeth (sometimes even instead of brushing).

Early in the pregnancy my gums bled at the dentist as I would have expected. At that point I hadn’t been doing the probiotic consistently. Late in the pregnancy, when I’d been doing it every day, the hygienist (without knowing about my probiotic regime), commented that I had unusually healthy gums for a pregnant woman and that I must have great dental hygiene at home. I responded that in fact I never floss and don’t even brush more than once a day). I had had almost no blood at that visit – less than when I’m not pregnant.

I don’t think what keeps gums healthy is getting under the gums – on the contrary, I think what keeps gums healthy is combatting bad oral bacteria, and most people try to do that mechanically by flossing under the gums. Good powdered probiotics can do the same thing and have wider health benefits.

Seems to me like oil pulling plus a probiotic like this could be the perfect dental routine.


128 jenn March 8, 2014 at 9:53 am

I have to agree with you. I have never been a flosser my entire life. I think I have literally flossed maybe…20 times in my life total? Embarrassing, but true. And I have great gums and have had only 1 cavity in my life (on a tooth I cracked eating something – it was inevitable).

So I guess I’m not so sure about the true need to floss either.

In terms of oil pulling – tried for the first time last week. I have been suffering from an intense sinus infection that 3 rounds of antibiotics hasn’t cleared, and even went in for a CT scan last week to see what was going on. Not to get too gross, but while pulling for the very first time, my sinuses started to drain like crazy. Not sure if this is due to moving the facial muscles around for 20 minutes, or if it’s the actual oil pulling – but I will continue because I can’t see any harm in it. My teeth do seem to be whiter as well, and they are really smooth.

As others have said – my breath is also much fresher than when I brush alone. I do follow up my oil pulling with a tiny bit of toothpaste just so I can brush off my tongue.


129 Elizabeth N. January 27, 2014 at 5:35 pm

I started oil pulling last month. In fact it may have been around the time you mentioned it on your blog. I have issues with my gums as well as sensitive teeth and wanted to begin to focus on solving the problems, rather than just continue to brush, floss, and use mouth wash, because those things were clearly not working. So I decided to give oil pulling a try just for a week and see how I liked it. I loved it from the start. Not sure I have noticed any measurable differences yet but the lack of bad breath alone is enough of a benefit for me to continue. My mouth just feels so much cleaner as well. I always notice a difference on the days when I don’t oil pull and I always regret not taking the time to do it. Now if I could just convince my hubby to give it a try! He doesn’t understand how I would dare not brush and thinks I am just going to get cavities from this little experiment of mine…maybe one day he will come around.


130 Clare January 27, 2014 at 5:54 pm

This is fascinating. I have never heard of oil pulling and would never have guessed it was a teeth cleaning method. Talk about learning something everyday!
I have a jar of coconut oil in the cupboard and maybe some peppermint oil…….
I am intrigued to see how this goes long term and what dentists have to say, I did read the lady’s comment who is a dental nurse. I am feeling the need to give this a go and I am due to see my dentist in a few weeks, so I will be very interested to see what they say about it.
Thanks Gabrielle, interesting stuff.


131 Casscasscass January 27, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Oh, I’m learning about the many benefits of coconut oil (unrefined, cold pressed, like you describe) this winter. Coconut oil heals my scalp, my skin, and apparently, I should try it on my teeth!!


132 Zoe - SlowMama January 27, 2014 at 6:32 pm

I heard about oil pulling about two years ago (got a big crunchy side and have always been into alternative health). It took me a while to try it but after about a week, I abandoned it… probably because I’d just gotten home with two newly adopted 4 year-olds and could barely think straight.

I recently went back to it and although I’ve failed at doing it perfectly — have forgotten some mornings or didn’t quite make it the full 20 min — I’m going to keep at it for a few months and see what happens. I already notice that it makes a difference in my breath and also makes my teeth feel cleaner. I think they also look a tad whiter. I continue to brush with water at night, and floss. Not sure I need to, but it makes my mouth feel better at the end of the day.

Impressed you tried this Gabrielle, and I’d love to hear a follow up after another couple of months!


133 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:03 am

Will definitely follow up!


134 dana gault January 27, 2014 at 7:13 pm

A medical condition prevents me from using anything other than prescription toothpaste so I have no real stake in the game but I must say, in response to the comment that it’s the 20 minutes of cleansing that’s of benefit: probably a big part of it, but it’s a fair bet there’s no dental professional on earth who would recommend brushing for longer than two minutes, so if your teeth are cleaner, or seem so, by pulling for 20, that’s a positive. I would be concerned about not flossing because of the gum issues,but this we won’t know until dentists check it out.
Gabrielle, my favorite part of your post are the artful, multiple disclaimers hahahha! So glad you’re back from Alt Summit because I miss your posts. Pull on, my sister!


135 Emme January 27, 2014 at 7:18 pm

You asked if anyone has ever tried something casually and then loved it… Yes–a baby sling! I recommend them to everyone I know now!


136 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:03 am

Love that, Emme!


137 Kem January 27, 2014 at 7:19 pm

I’ve been oil pulling for about a month and love it. Try adding some On Guard from doterra, super helpful for this cold and flu season.


138 jane January 27, 2014 at 7:20 pm

just curious. If I had braces would it be different? I know you are not a super expert but am curious if you have come by anything about that.


139 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:04 am

Good question, Jane. I have no info on the braces, but I do have a permanent retainer on my bottom teeth. It’s been there for 20 years, and it a super pain to try and floss around. The oil pulling hasn’t hurt the retainer in any way, and does seem to help keep those teeth cleaner. Who knows?


140 Laura January 29, 2014 at 12:19 pm

I also have had a permanent retainer for 20 years–Gum soft-picks are great for cleaning in between those teeth.


141 The Other Robin January 27, 2014 at 7:53 pm

I tried pulling last year for a while. I had a tough go at first. I couldn’t do the 20 minutes. Not even close. It made my mouth/cheeks hurt. The longer I tried it, though, the more things I figured out. I definitely had an easier time after melting it. I figured out a good time to do it consistently (after I got my daughter on the school bus, while I checked my e-mail, to distract me), and I learned to swish less vigorously. The last one helped with the pulled-muscle feeling in my face/cheeks. Good luck to new ‘pullers’.


142 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:05 am

I hear you. When my mouth gets tired, I let it rest and just hold the oil still for a bit, then start up again. Who knew swishing could wear me out!


143 Ellie January 27, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Thank you for mentionning oil pulling that first time! I went back to the dentist after an 8 year gap (had 4 children). Everything was fine, but the oil pulling addresses the reason I went to the dentist after so long which is um, a funky gum. I can’t oil pull everyday and I do brush after. I love the coconut oil, I can’t imagine doing it with the recommended sesame oil!


144 suzanne January 27, 2014 at 8:33 pm

okay, i know i’ve heard of this (years ago); but i just tried it. the most i could make it was a bit more than 10 minutes. it hurt my mouth — all that swishing. did it just feel comfortable to you from the start? i’m going to give it a few times more!


145 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:06 am

I don’t know if this will help, but I only use approx 1 Tablespoon of oil. Sometimes less. More than that I’m too gaggy.


146 albo January 27, 2014 at 8:34 pm

I don’t know if someone else mentioned this and I missed it, but a huge advantage of this – assuming it actually works – is the reduction of wear and tear on teeth and gums caused by brushing and flossing.

I have congenitally horrific teeth – I’ve been taking AMAZING care of them for my whole adult life and they are still all slowly dying – more than half of my teeth are now crowns or bridges.
Since my late teens I’ve flossed every time I eat and brushed twice a day, and it has really done a job on my gums – I have terrible gum recession from all the brushing, but if I don’t brush very, very thoroughly I end up with nasty gunk on my teeth.
(and here’s a bizarre fun-fact – there’s something weird about my saliva that makes it dissolve the glue off of stamps and envelopes – if I lick a stamp (remember lickable stamps?) and put i on an envelope it will peel off as soon as it dries. I’m a freak of nature.)

Anyway – I’m interested to read more about this and try it – thanks for the info!


147 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:08 am

“a huge advantage of this – assuming it actually works – is the reduction of wear and tear on teeth and gums caused by brushing and flossing.”

I feel like this as well. Flossing for me has always been uncomfortable and painful, and the advice has pretty much been: do it every day until your gums build up a toughness.

But I’ve never had success getting flossing to be non-painful.


148 Erin January 27, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Ok. Totally just tried oil pulling with coconut oil. I fought my gag reflex for five minutes and just couldn’t take it anymore and spit it out. Very interesting concept, but a no go for me. Maybe I’ll try adding some when I brush.


149 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:09 am

My first time, I used a very small amount of oil — maybe a teaspoon. I think that helped me get through it the first time.


150 Nancy January 27, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Hmmm, I’ve NEVER heard of this! I’m definitely curious to try it out. I have pretty rotten enamel genes (plus bad hygiene as a kid!) so I’m a little hesitant to give up my sonicare just yet. I’ve got a few spots, though, that the dentist is keeping her eye on so I’ll be curious to see if things change for the better after giving this a go for a few months. Thanks for the tip.


151 Sally January 27, 2014 at 9:50 pm

So I too tried this after I read your original post. I had heard about oil pulling a few years back, but with olive oil. I tried it once and gagged at the taste, so I never tried it again until your post mentioned coconut oil. I too love the way my teeth feel after doing it. I might have to try the mint eo because I miss the minty taste at bed time.
One word of caution, one morning I had the oil in my mouth and was done and ready to spit, both bathrooms were occupied and the kitchen sink was full of dishes, so I spit it in a container meaning to wash it down later. Well when I got around to it, it was back to an almost solid. I started thinking what a number grease does to your pipes and I began to wonder what trouble the coconut oil might cause down the road. Any insight out there on that?


152 giselle January 28, 2014 at 9:15 am

You should spit it out in the trash, never down the sink or toilet. Oil, any type of oil is very contaminating and clogging for water and pipes.


153 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:10 am

Your instinct is correct, Sally! The oil can clog drains. I always spit into the trash can (if it has a plastic liner), or into our compost bin.


154 * January 27, 2014 at 9:52 pm

I tried it once but I couldn’t go the whole 20 minutes without a build up of saliva, I was dying to spit it out. Has the ever been a problem? I think the blog post I read recommended 2T of oil which seemed like a lot.


155 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:11 am

Oh definitely! The amount of liquid seems to double in my mouth. And I can’t manage 2 Tablespoons at all. One Tablespoon is my max, and on some mornings, I use less than that.


156 Jess. January 28, 2014 at 12:57 pm

If it’s the e-mail Gabrielle links above, it’s just 2 teaspoons recommended, which may help. xox


157 Lucy January 27, 2014 at 9:55 pm

I just tried this and it was rough, but I’m determined to try again tomorrow. I made it about 13 minutes. I fought my gagging reflex the entire time and finally my gagging got the best of me and I had to spit it out. I wonder if I should try less coconut oil next time? I had to keep spitting out some so that my entire mouth wasn’t completely full. I’m definitely intrigued!


158 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:12 am

Less could help.

For sure the hardest part for me is when the coconut oil is melting. A commenter above mentions she melts in the microwave first. Seems like a smart way for me to skip the gagging part.


159 Colleen January 27, 2014 at 9:55 pm

I haven’t tried oil pulling, but I started making my own toothpaste about 9 months ago (using Crunchy Betty’s recipe) and I wonder if it has a similar effect? It is made from coconut oil and baking soda with some peppermint essential oil and stevia to cut the soda flavor a bit. I will never go back to commercial toothpaste! The baking soda flavor takes a day or two to adjust to – and I promise, you really do adjust to it – and then it’s not bad. In fact, when you rinse afterwards, the water tastes so sweet and delicious!

I didn’t have the guts at my last dental appointment to tell the hygienist or dentist that I hadn’t used fluoride toothpaste in six months, but they told me my teeth were amazingly plaque-free! I had a tooth that was on a cavity watch and it was doing better. My teeth are whiter and MUCH less cold-sensitive. I’ll have to give oil-pulling a shot and see what I think.


160 Dale January 28, 2014 at 5:29 am

Isn’t that funny of us? I was always hesitant to fess up to our stern MD about the warm olive and garlic that worked so well when my little daughter was prone to ear infections


161 chris January 27, 2014 at 10:07 pm

While the idea of swishing oil around for 20 minutes sounds both time consuming and just kind of strange, I felt the need to try to understand this from a scientific viewpoint and found this:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120902222459.htm, a summary of research by some Irish researchers presented at a microbiology conference.
I guess it is useful to know that tooth decay is caused by bacteria and the study suggests that coconut oil treated with enzymes (which is like the process that occurs when you have the oil in your mouth – the enzymes in your saliva start to break it down)seems to inhibit the growth of certain stains of bacteria. Most tooth decay occurs between teeth and in pits and so swishing this ‘activated oil’ around would therefore potentially get into those sort of areas that a brush might miss. Seems an interesting premise! I almost feel tempted to try it.


162 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:13 am

Thanks for the link, Chris!


163 jrs January 28, 2014 at 9:20 pm

thanks for this chris! was wondering what science was behind this. very intriguing.


164 Beth C. January 27, 2014 at 10:35 pm

I don’t know if anyone else posted this already, but you mentioned that you miss the minty feeling…just add a drop of Peppermint essential oil to the coconut oil in your mouth :)


165 Sarah January 27, 2014 at 10:47 pm

i’ve been trying oil pulling for about a month now, and i say “ditto” to your thoughts on it. i still brush my teeth though. can’t seem to kick the habit. i use earth circle organic coconut oil. it’s delicious. like the inside of a mounds candy bar.

something else i recently have tried “casually” is essential oils. i’m sold. peppermint for headaches, nutmeg for an adrenal issue, lavender for skin problems, tea tree oil for acne. my kids even enjoy it. i was quite skeptical but am now a believer :)


166 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:14 am

I’m curious about the tea tree oil for acne. We are heading into the teenage breakout years and I need some help figuring out what works.


167 The Other Robin January 28, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Before using tea tree oil for young people, look into the the possible endocrine disruption. I have heard different things about it, so maybe do some research before giving it to the kiddos…


168 Marlo January 30, 2014 at 2:19 am

The endocrine disruption you’re referring to is caused by “essential oils” (lavender is one that is commonly referenced) that are laced with additives, or completely synthetic, even if they say “100% pure”. Labels mean next to nothing. Essential oils from Young Living, for example, are legitimately 100% pure essential oils, and there are several that work amazingly well for acne (Purification, Frankincense, Melaleuca alternifolia – more commonly known as tea tree oil). I’ve read a little on oil pulling – I’ve found myself drawn to essential oils lately, so I may as well go all the way and clean my teeth with oil, too :)


169 Carolyn February 12, 2014 at 4:32 pm

I do the oil cleaning method on my face and then use tea tree oil to treat any breakouts. It works well enough that I threw out my Proactiv! TTO can be super drying, though, which can sometimes make pimples worse (there’s a fine line between drying it out so it disappears, and drying it out so much that then your skin gets angry and doesn’t heal!) but I’d definitely recommend it :)


170 stacy January 27, 2014 at 11:10 pm

Good for you! I started just before Christmas and was doing well with it until my inlays came to stay and suddenly I felt quite silly trying to explain why I couldn’t talk to them for 20 mins in the mornings :) I too felt all the plusses you mention here, thanks for the reminder. I think I will start again.


171 Alethea January 27, 2014 at 11:25 pm

I’m going to have to start waking up earlier in the morning… I just did it and my teeth feel pretty clean! I think I’ll use slightly less on the next try, as I got kind of uncomfortable during the second half.


172 Vic January 28, 2014 at 12:15 am

I’ve got to admit that I love oil pulling, there’s nothing more splendid and virtuous than coconut oil. I’m not however very consistent at doing this, but if I do it, it is best to do it immediately after you wake up. Have also noticed the improvement on breath and maybe teeth are whiter. Highly recommend it!
Not quite sure if it has something to do with the oil pulling but has any of you experienced some stains on face? they were gone after I stopped the oil pulling…hopefully it has no association whatsoever with the o/p because I absolutely adore it :/


173 Belle January 28, 2014 at 5:24 am

A few weeks ago I discovered a massive cavity in a back molar. I’d been seeing things about oil pulling to heal a cavity around the internet for a while and, since I’m just starting my third trimester and can’t really have it filled unless it becomes painful, I decided to give oil pulling a try. I’ve been doing it for about a week and a half now and the cavity is obviously still there, but I will say that it does seem to be getting less black. I plan on oil pulling until my due date in April and adding this supplement, which I hear is really helpful in remineralizing teeth: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Green-Pasture-Butter-Fermented-Capsules/dp/B002M06SMU


174 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:16 am

I read something similar. It sounds like people who have had good luck with remineralizing teeth use oil pulling for cleaning, and then consume raw milk or raw butter (in food form or in pill form).

Raw milk is crazy expensive here. Like $8 for a half gallon. Makes me miss France where we bought it from our neighbors for a fraction of that cost.


175 Dale January 28, 2014 at 5:25 am

I was intrigued after the first mention but just haven’t found the time. The coconut oil is sitting on the counter(after being dipped in to for some so so baking experiments) I’m starting today! Thank you


176 Tiffany January 28, 2014 at 5:34 am

I am a dental hygienist and we did research on oil pulling while I was in school. I had never heard of it before that. I would definitely encourage you to keep flossing! Studies show that mouth rinses and liquids in your mouth are only able to go about 1mm under the gum line whereas flossing gets up to 3mm under your gums if done properly. Even if you don’t see a lot of plaque when flossing after oil pulling there is sure to be bacteria. So I would just add flossing several times a week to your new routine.


177 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:17 am

I love hearing that you studied it in school. Makes it feel less weird to me. : )


178 TeeBln January 28, 2014 at 5:46 am

I’m addicted to oil pulling and can agree to all the positive effects described above! thanks for writing about this, Gabrielle!

just would like to add what my best friend (who is a dentist) explained to me when I told her about it… btw she didn’t laugh at me and she also did not give me an anti-oil-pulling speech ;)
the gums seem to need brushing from time to time (in order to prevent paradontosis). so she recommended that I use the toothbrush to massage my gums regularly in addition to my oil-routine.

also she was worried about the possible lack of flouride (which comes with regular tooth pastes and seems to be essential for healthy enamel). I guess, if you add a lil flouride to your dental hygiene it can’t be that wrong…


179 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:17 am

Good to know!


180 Jessica@Little Nesting Doll January 28, 2014 at 6:45 am

I am very, very interested in trying this. Do you think you’ll have your kids try it at all? I am doing lots of thinking about food as medicine lately–in fact I just wrote about it yesterday on my blog! (http://littlenestingdoll.blogspot.com/2014/01/food-as-medicine.html). I think there are a lot of natural remedies we’ve somehow gotten away from as a society, and I really want to see what I can find and incorporate.


181 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:18 am

I haven’t decided yet on the kids. They see Ben and I oil pulling on the weekends. I figure if they want to try it, they’ll ask about it.


182 Valentina January 28, 2014 at 7:33 am

I am a dentist and love reading design mom when I have the time. I just want to add some info about oil pulling and rebuilding teeth. A large cavity that forms in or on a tooth consists not only of bacteria but also the debris of broken down tooth structure which was effectively eaten away by the bacteria .The use of fluoride and other types of remineralizing pastes are common and I often see cavities that are small on the surface and lead to gaping deep decay once the top layer is removed. I cannot say that oil pulling is not effective at keeping healthy teeth clean and plaque free but I can tell you not to expect coconut oil to cure disease ridden teeth. The mechanical removal of debris and bacteria will prevent decay, whether that is done with oil or a brush, a thorough job must be done to prevent decay and inflammation of the gums.


183 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:20 am

Thanks for chiming in! I’d love to know if you’ve ever seen a tooth remineralize? I’ve never attempted it myself, but there’s sure a lot of talk about it out there, and apparently some success. The success stories seem to involve eating particular foods (often raw dairy products). Maybe it’s a whole-istic dentistry thing?


184 Sara January 28, 2014 at 7:43 am

Just tried it with olive oil since I didn’t have coconut oil on hand. So as I went along more of my saliva mixed in with the oil. This has to be normal right? It felt like at the end the oil was significantly diluted with my saliva and there was a significantly larger amount of liquid in my mouth. Do others have the same experience?

So surprised that the oil didn’t feel oily at all!


185 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:21 am

I don’t know about anyone else, by the amount of liquid definitely increases as I go thanks to my saliva.


186 natasha January 28, 2014 at 7:47 am

Okay, you got me. I’m totally going to try this.

Also, can I say Gabrielle that yours is one of the only blogs that consistently stays fresh, real and interesting. I love coming to your site. Keep up the good work!


187 Design Mom January 28, 2014 at 11:22 am

Thank you for the kind words, Natasha!


188 Natalie March 6, 2014 at 9:01 am

All I have right not is sesame oil.. Does it work the same as coconut oil?


189 Tami March 6, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Some of the research suggests sesame oil! So yes.


190 Erica January 28, 2014 at 8:05 am

I’m going to try this tonight! Thanks for the tip. I was going to message you last week when you spoke about vasaline and the new jelly you use. I actually use coconut oil to take off my makeup and as a moisterizer. I take a little out of the jar, melt in my palms, smooth over my face and then take a cloth or cotton pad to wipe off.


191 Shannon Schnurr January 28, 2014 at 9:51 am

I’ve always had bad teeth (thin enamel) so I’m always trying to find a better way to manage my dental hygiene. I was intrigued when you first hinted at this, and now I think I’ll have to try it! 20 minutes sounds like such a long time though!


192 Meagan Claire January 28, 2014 at 10:41 am

I have been REALLY looking forward to you writing this post! If you have any follow ups, please post them, too! I’ve oil pulled on and off for a bit. I like it, but I’m so lazy in the mornings. I’ve heard that it’s best to do it in the morning “before you swallow,” meaning before your at or drink. But I’ve been told by people (old ladies, too!) about all the great befefits, and I hope to be better at making this a habit. I hadn’t heard about it being an outright replacement for brushing your teeth, though. Interesting! I’m an over zealous tooth brusher and I’ve even pushed my gums down a bit because of it. Maybe Imshould give that up, too. Admittedly, I’m a little nervous about that. But, not as nervous as I am about brushing away my gums and having my teeth rattle about in my mouth. Eek!


193 Amy3 January 28, 2014 at 11:27 am

Fascinating! I was very skeptical when you first mentioned this, but I’m convinced to try it. I’m thinking I could do it first thing in the morning when I’m the only one up and am busy with showering and getting ready for the day. I have 20 minutes there. We don’t have any coconut oil (yet!), but enough people mentioned olive oil that I’ll start there.

I have problems with gum recession so even if I still floss, which I do daily (and perhaps brush occasionally), I have to believe this would help preserve my gums.


194 sarah January 28, 2014 at 11:50 am

Haven’t tried this, but I think I might. I would like to recommend another use for the coconut oil, though – as deodorant! I know some people mix it with baking soda and essential oil to make a more traditional deodorant, but I just rub a little bit of oil on my armpits after a shower and before I go out. I use little enough that it soaks in basically immediately. It seems to inhibit perspiring as well as anti-perspirant ever does (perhaps because it creates an oil barrier over the top of the skin?) but more importantly I find that as long as I ONLY use coconut oil I never smell like body odor. I used to sometimes “cheat” and use anti-perspirant for a day, and I would always come home stinkier than usual, and remain more stinky than usual for the next week.


195 Jen January 28, 2014 at 11:57 am

I had read about this before, but I finally tried it after reading this post because of my morning sickness and this PERPETUAL nasty taste I have in my mouth all the time. It’s awful! So I tried it. And it really helped! My husband was sweet, but undoubtedly thought I was a little nuts.


196 Stacy M January 28, 2014 at 12:16 pm

I’ve been really interested in trying oil-pulling lately, especially because my teeth have been so sensitive lately…. but I’m a little nervous about stopping brushing all together! Have you heard anything about how brushing could be counter-intuitive or do you think brushing in the evening would be just fine? Maybe brushing with coconut oil rather than toothpaste in the evening?

Mostly just wondering if you had any thoughts, thanks! Can’t wait to start oil-pulling soon!


197 Dana January 28, 2014 at 12:27 pm

I am very intrigued by oil pulling but have never tried it due to he fact that as I was researching it, I discovered a few articles that said if you have amalgam fillings (the silver ones) you should avoid this practice because it can leech the toxins from the fillings. Has anyone else heard of / have any insight on this?


198 Dana January 28, 2014 at 12:32 pm

I am curious about oil pulling but have avoided it as I read in a couple of places it was unadvisable to take on the practice if you had the amalgam (silver) fillings as it can cause the fillings to release their toxins. Has anyone else heard of / have any experience with this? (I imagine everyone that commented is not filling free! ;). )


199 Me Again January 28, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Please don’t advise people not to floss because you deem it inconvenient in your life. Science tells us flossing is better than brushing, oil-pulling aside. One could floss only and never brush again, and they’d have healthier teeth. Please research this.


200 jrs January 28, 2014 at 9:27 pm

i’d love to see articles pls post links


201 Sally from Little Hiccups January 28, 2014 at 1:40 pm

I’m really intrigued by this oil pulling and would love to give it a go but I’m a little worried as I have the worst teeth ever! Seriously, I just have to look at sugar and a cavity starts to form! I’d be hesitant to give up the flouride from toothpaste.
For about 15 years I’ve been using a prescription only high flouride toothpaste but despite this I still need an average of 6 or so fillings per year :( Admittedly many of those are replacements as my teeth don’t seem to hold fillings in properly and I usually loose a couple (fillings, not teeth!) per year.
Who knows, maybe the oil pulling might help keep my existing fillings in place? I would love to hear from anyone who has this same problem and has tried oil pulling.
Like a few other readers who’ve commented, I also suffer from receding gums due to overly vigorous brushing over the years. I imagine that oil pulling would definitely be more gentle, especially seeing as the newly exposed tooth enamel is super, super sensitive.
Oh, and you mentioned in the post that some people who claim that their own oil pulling has filled cavities have done this in conjunction with drinking raw milk. I grew up drinking raw milk fresh from a dairy farm until the age of 17. When we moved the city and had to switch to regular milk (which I could NOT stand for at least a year!) it didn’t seem to make any difference to the quality of my teeth or my younger brother and sister’s teeth. I guess it doesn’t hurt to try though. At the very least, raw milk does taste a whole lot better :)


202 Claire January 28, 2014 at 4:00 pm

I was so interested so I tried it this morning and my teeth and mouth feel so…not fresh all day. Has anyone had a bad experience with it? Did you have a good experience right away, Gabrielle? I don’t want to give up after one try! But my breath and teeth do not feel clean at all.


203 Cecilia January 29, 2014 at 11:20 am

Claire, I’ve been oil pulling (or “swishing,” as we call it at our house) with coconut oil for almost a month. I had read that it is important to rinse your mouth after oil pulling. What I do is: after twenty minutes, I spit out the oil in the trash (it can clog your drains); rinse my mouth and spit (two times); and then follow with a big glass of water with lemon juice in it. I am usually so thirsty for that water since I avoid drinking anything before oil pulling! My husband, who does it too, and I both still brush our teeth twice a day. I don’t think you have to give up brushing as part of oil pulling unless you want to. Hope that helps.


204 Sangeetha January 28, 2014 at 4:01 pm

I started oil pulling a few weeks back. Because of time, I am not very conisten with it. I oil pull before I go to bed.
I am a scientist an so I was thrilled when I found the link to the peer reviewed PubMed article that one of the commentors had posted!
I like the taste of coconut oil in my mouth. It sounded gross at first but actually is pleasant and also sort of meditative since I cannot talk for 15 mins!
In response to other comments about how ancient people brushed their teeth….I know that in India people used to use neem twigs to brush their teeth. Even now poor people in villages do so as they cannot bear the cost of toothpaste. Neem has antibiotic properties as does coconut oil. I wish I could keep up the habit and get my family involved too.


205 kim t. January 28, 2014 at 5:09 pm

I have been very curious about this for about a year now. I might just have to try it!
here is a nice, natural mouthwash that my husband likes to use when he feels he needs it – “tooth and gums tonic” by the Dental Herb Company


206 craftyashley@gmail.com January 28, 2014 at 5:31 pm

I just tried it this morning, man are my cheeks tired! I really struggled to make it the full 20 minutes and spilled some on my pajamas. (eew!) But I’m fascinated by the idea! Especially the breath benefits (a certain husband could really use it, if I can pursuance him to try it!)


207 Meredith January 28, 2014 at 6:38 pm

I was intrigued by your initial mention of oil-pulling, and started it then, mostly because I have ongoing pain in one part of my mouth. The first time I tried it, I definitely had to fight the gag reflex, using less oil has stopped that. I wasn’t brave enough to stop brushing or flossing…even though my teeth didn’t really feel like they needed it after the oil-pulling, we’ll see if I decide to do that later. I love how clean my mouth feels after I’m done, and it really does seem to last most of the day. I will state that the pain is not gone, and I cannot tell if it is less…have you ever been in pain so long that you stop noticing it except as an afterthought? Anyway, I’m off to the dentist tomorrow, we’ll see what he says about the health of my mouth!


208 Christa January 28, 2014 at 6:48 pm

I’ll have to read up in the thread but the main question that pops into my head is would it work with anything? Because 20 min. of swishing is a lot of swishing and I wonder how much of the effectiveness is the swishing.


209 Raquel January 28, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Wow–I’ve never heard of oil-pulling, ever. I’m fascinated and am going to try it. It seems counter to clean teeth. I also have a hard time flossing consistently and want to see how this feels. Makes me wonder what else I have no clue about!


210 Christine S January 29, 2014 at 1:42 am

Fascinating Gabrielle! I have just tried it for the first time. I already use coconut oil in place of body lotion and in cooking, and just today Kris Carr posted about using it in place of shampoo! I’m going to be missing my costco sized tubs here in NZ


211 Ewa January 29, 2014 at 4:43 am

Can we combine both- oil pulling in the morning and brushing in the evening, for example?


212 Amy3 January 29, 2014 at 9:36 am

I think this is what I’ll do, Ewa. I meant to start oil pulling this morning, but I totally forgot! My plan now is to start this weekend when my morning will be less auto-pilot-driven. Then I’ll floss and brush in the evening.


213 susaninfrance January 29, 2014 at 10:40 am

sounds very interesting. i use oil to clean my face already….so I’m going to try it! i’m a “kinda hippy” anyway so i’m always up for alternative ideas. I’m very interested to keep reading the comments. I also already use coconut oil in so many things food and cosmetic-wise, so I really have no excuse!


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