Today was the last day of the mouthwash vs. oil pulling experiment. My observations:
Week One – Mouthwash
I purchased Crest Pro-Health Multi-Protection Alcohol Free mouthwash, primarily because that was the smallest bottle of mouthwash I could find at the drugstore. It claimed to offer 24-hour protection and do the following things:
- kills germs
- reduces plaque
- helps prevent gingivitis
- keeps teeth cleaner longer
- freshens breath
all without the burn of alcohol. I used it according to instructions, swishing for 30 seconds twice a day after brushing and flossing.
Here’s what I noticed. After swishing in the morning, my mouth was numb for about four to five hours. I felt like my tastebuds were slowly being killed off. Lunch didn’t taste as good. My mouth didn’t feel clean, it felt numb. Even though I brushed, flossed, and mouthwashed before going to bed, I still woke up with a good amount of plaque on my teeth in the morning. My breath didn’t appear noticeably fresher, but do you ever really notice when your own breath is fresh?
Week Two – Brush and Floss, My Regular Routine
This was the control week. I’m glad we built this into the experiment, so that my mouth had time to return to normal. I brushed and flossed twice a day.
Week Three – Oil Pulling
I purchased Trader Joe’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. It comes in a glass jar, and is not a liquid, but not quite a solid either, it’s kind of a mushy in between state. I opened the jar the first morning. It smelled good, like being in the Bahamas. Instructions for oil pulling say to swish the oil in your mouth for 20 minutes each morning (before you’ve had a chance to eat or drink anything), pulling the oil through your teeth. I had the timer on my phone set for 20 minutes, and ready to start as soon as the tablespoon of oil went into my mouth. I put the gelatinous mush in my mouth, started the timer, and almost gagged. The taste was fine, but the texture was unpleasant. As I swished for a few minutes, the oil became more liquid like, and not quite so gag inspiring. I used the time to check my email, Facebook, and Twitter. The twenty minutes passed pretty quickly (surprisingly). The volume grew as I swished and the oil combined with my saliva. I spit it out into a cup (if you try this, don’t spit it down the drain because it can clog the plumbing), then rinsed with salt water as instructed. My teeth felt really clean, like after a cleaning and polishing at the dentist’s. I brushed and flossed as normal. I noticed when I flossed that there was almost no plaque on my teeth.
Later that morning, I had friends over for brunch. I made one of my favorite brunch dishes, baked French toast. I love this dish not only because it’s easy to make, but also because it’s sugary and delicious, and a rare treat that I only make when guests come over. Usually after eating it (or any sweets, really), my teeth start to feel fuzzy; I can actually feel the plaque forming from all the sugar. I was surprised that didn’t happen that morning. My teeth continued to feel smooth and clean. I ate another piece of baked French toast (in the name of science) and waited. Still no fuzziness. My teeth continued to feel clean, and stayed that way for several hours. Interesting.
On day 2, I heated the oil in the microwave for about 10 seconds before swishing. That was just long enough to liquefy it, so that I didn’t gag. As I swished, thoughts of “What the heck are you doing? This is ridiculous…” ran through my head. Some claims of oil pulling are that it:
- whitens teeth
- strengthens your gums/teeth/jaw
- prevents cavities and promotes overall good oral health
- helps ease symptoms of acne, eczema, psoriasis, etc
- clears up morning breath/halitosis
- helps with sleep issues
The claim is that the oil pulls bacteria out of your mouth and toxins out of your body. As I swished, it didn’t feel like any toxins were leaving my body, but maybe they were leaving quietly. On day 3, a random stranger stopped me on the street and told me I was stunningly beautiful. Could it be the toxins had been masking my beauty before? Perhaps…
I oil pulled for twenty minutes every morning over the past seven days. My teeth feel cleaner; I don’t feel the buildup of plaque that I normally feel after eating food (mostly sweets). I wish I had taken a before/after picture of my teeth. They seem whiter, but as one of my friends said, “You’ve always had white teeth.”
The one downside is that this morning one of my teeth that has a crown started hurting. It’s not a terrible pain, but it is slightly more sensitive when I bite down on it. I did some more research before writing this post and some people suggest that oil pulling can loosen crowns, or cause them to fall off (oops – guess I should have researched that before hand). So, will I continue oil pulling every day? Probably not. But on those days when I want super smooth polished teeth and that just-come-from-the-dentist feeling, I have a jar of Trader Joe’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil waiting for me in my cupboard.