Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Will Oil Pulling Fix my Sensitive Teeth…or is it Just a Hoax?

October 26th, 2011 · 110 Comments · Natural Health

A few thoughts ran simultaneously through my head the first time I read about oil pulling:

  1. What a crackpot idea
  2. Um, gross!
  3. This is not something I will ever try

Yet here I am, trying yet another gross crackpot idea that has to do with food!

coconut oil

Oil pulling is the practice of putting unrefined oil in your mouth and swishing it around for 10-20 minutes, then spitting it out.

See what I mean? Gross!

It supposedly has all sorts of benefits, according to Dr. Google and the Internet, many of which have nothing to do with the mouth. (Actually, I Swagbucks search to earn bucks on Amazon, do you?)

For me, I’m looking to achieve some mouth-related relief from oil pulling, which seems slightly less crackpot to me if only because clearly the oil is in the mouth, so could perhaps have an effect there.

A few circumstances collided to result in my oil pulling attempts, in case you were wondering what in the world changed my mind:

  1. I’ve been having some serious tooth sensitivity to cold (air or liquid) and sweets, like dates or heavy frostings, probably because of the tax on my body from pregnancy and breastfeeding, and maybe because of no. 2…
  2. I keep forgetting/running out of time or hands to brush my teeth. I blame blogging, babies, and the fact that I’m not a morning person.
  3. Renee Harris, boss lady at MadeOn Hard Lotion and a friend of mine, issued a challenge to pull oil for 30 days, and she kind of personally asked me if I was going to do it. *peer pressure* Here’s her post on the basic premise of oil pulling. You might also be interested in the original post I read at The Nourished Life with Elizabeth’s anecdotal success story.
  4. I realized oil pulling was something I could try without buying anything new or doing a bunch of research or time making a recipe for something, so….

Renee shares briefly how to do oil pulling as well, and I’ll chime in with my tips. I’ve been doing it faithfully every day for about 9 days now (confession: I missed at least one day, maybe two, but this is a pretty good track record for me!)

Oil Pulling Tips
  • You will definitely think it’s gross at first. Give yourself a few minutes, get busy doing something, and you’ll forget about it/get used to it.
  • You might feel like your mouth is going to get too full as saliva joins the oil. Gross, again. Don’t swallow, whatever you do. Just trust me – your mouth won’t continue to add saliva the whole 20 minutes, and you won’t drown. Trust me.
  • Solid coconut oil, while it does melt rather quickly in the mouth, doesn’t quite melt quickly enough. Grossness factor elevated. If you can, put a jar of unrefined coconut oil on your stove while you cook and let it melt, since the liquid form is ever so much more palatable. (Here’s one source for quality coconut oil, and you can get a free book all about the other benefits of coconut oil if you’re a first time customer.)
  • Figure out when to do it so that no one has to talk to you. Oil pulling is apparently best done in the morning, but if that’s not possible, don’t sweat it. I’ve used two different times to make it work: during a shower and while working on the computer at night, after everyone has gone to bed.
  • We are always running out of spoons around here. I’ve tried to use a clean one to pull oil, since I have to dip it in the coconut oil, and then after I swish water around my mouth, I use the same spoon to take my fermented cod liver oil. (Win some this week here!) See how much I overthink efficiency? Just thought I’d share.
  • You are supposed to brush your teeth right after pulling oil, which is good (see no. 2 above).
  • Set a timer so you don’t have to think about how long it’s been (or get caught up in what you’re doing and “pull” for too long!).
Does Oil Pulling Detox your System?

Donielle of Naturally Knocked Up saw me gabbing about oil pulling on Twitter (where I microblogged my first disgusting attempt) and wondered if it was okay for me to do this because I’m still nursing Jonathan. Although I’m really only interested in stronger, healthier teeth and gums and getting rid of that sensitivity, apparently oil pulling is supposed to detox your entire body. This seems odd to me…

Here are some other claims about what oil pulling can help:

  • head-aches
  • bronchitis
  • thrombosis
  • eczema
  • ulcers and diseases of stomach, intestines, heart, blood, kidney, liver, lungs
  • women’s diseases
  • growth of malignant tumors
  • chronic sleeplessness
  • source

This is where I get skeptical. But fascinating, nonetheless.

UPDATE: New oil pulling information post with notes from a talk by Bruce Fife, author of Oil Pulling Therapy – including the history of oil pulling, how Dr. Weston A. Price proved that the health of the body is very related to the health of the mouth, Fife’s oil pulling tips, and a word from some naysayers…Read it HERE.

Is Oil Pulling Effective?

Of course the biggest question has to be, “Does it work?”

My tentative response is, “Yes, but more research needed.”

You see, I really WANT this to work quite badly, because my teeth hurt. And it’s gross and makes my husband think I’m getting even weirder, so it would be nice to get the reward for my hard work.

In that light, I’m just not a very objective observer.

My data:

  • I swished cold water around my mouth immediately before and after pulling oil, and there was a marked difference afterward – less pain.
  • Teeth whitened? Who knows. I hardly ever see myself in a mirror these days…
  • Detox? You know, I just realized something. I thought the ol’ armpit stink I mentioned Monday was pretty much taken care of, but yesterday – after I missed a day or two of oil pulling – I was more stinky than usual. So maybe I was detoxing via my mouth while I was “pulling” and then back to the ‘pits when I wasn’t. Then again, maybe I was just desperately in need of a shower (see how much you’re learning about my lackadaisical personal hygiene this week! Sheesh!).
  • I might – might! – have less tooth sensitivity in general. I haven’t winced in pain since I started, but I’ve also probably been babying the side that hurts the most. Pain is so subjective and difficult, for me at least, to measure from day to day. Flossing still presented a problem on certain teeth.
What Next?

I’m happy enough with the results and curious enough to continue oil pulling. I’ll try to shoot for mornings but utilize evenings if I miss. I figure I’ll re-evaluate after a month. Watch Facebook and Twitter for my progress!

How about you? Anyone willing to jump on the crackpot bandwagon with Renee and me (we’re fun people to hang out on a wagon with) and try oil pulling?

Other oral health posts:

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110 Comments so far ↓

  • Elizabeth

    I’ve never tried oil pulling but if your teeth are having trouble, try Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye. My husband and I haven’t been to the dentist in about 4 years (grad school and no great dental coverage), and we have loved this system. http://askdrellie.blogspot.com/

    Don’t buy the book, unless you’re curious, just follow her recommendations. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Peggy

    I did oil pulling for a while, but couldn’t keep it up. As the (almost) sole parent of 6 kids, there isn’t 20 minutes in my day where my mouth is available! I even tried pinning a note to my shirt: “Mouth out of service until 9:23″ but then they’d just try to make me laugh. One thing that really helped my teeth (whiteness and sensitivity included) was to STOP brushing first thing in the morning and last thing before bed and brush diligently only after meals.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Patty

    When I first read you were swishing unrefined oil, I paniced. I thought you meant motor oil. LOL!
    Then I read further and smiled. If you don’t have time in the morning to brush your teeth, how do you find time to swish for 30 min. :)
    Ok, seriously, If the oil pulling doesn’t work, see if you can find someone that sells Standard Process supplements (usually chiropractors or or naturopathic doctors). You’ll love Standard Process- organically grown whole food supplements. They make a product called Bio-dent that really helps strengthen teeth. Some people claim Bio-dent can actually heal cavities (if you have any). I’m testing that claim myself right now. A naturopath friend of mine also recommended a product called ipsab by heritage. I haven’t tried that one yet.
    Hope your smile finds some relief soon!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Patty,
    Great recommendations, thank you! The teeth don’t always get brushed b/c that has to be after eating when life gets crazy. i can oil pull at 6 a.m. while on the computer. ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Liz H. Reply:

    You might want to look into the “brushing after meals” thing. That’s what we were taught, but I’ve been reading lately that you should wait at least 30 min. after eating to brush because of the acids that form in your mouth from eating. They soften the enamel & brushing with soft enamel is not a good thing. Having 9 children I can identify with the after-meal craziness. But by the time that’s over 30 minutes will probably have passed. And you can always line up the kiddos & everybody brush at the same time, you know, set a good example, establish good habits, & all that.

    [Reply to this comment]

    meeda Reply:

    Do you know if I can give it to children? (Bio dent)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Renee Harris

    Wow, Katie – you’re keeping up with it!
    I’m at the point where having the oil in my mouth isn’t so much a problem, but remembering to actually swish it around takes some discipline!
    Thanks for all your research. So far I’m not sure about the whiter teeth in my mouth, but it does seem to help with not having such sensitive teeth.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sara

    I’ve never heard of this before!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sonia

    I tried it for a few months before and didn’t notice much of a difference. I was kind of disappointed because I too, really wanted it to work. I researched it a bit and it said to use sesame oil which is what I used.. talk about gross factor (I’m not a big fan of the taste.) I might try it again sometime with coconut oil.. maybe.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rachel

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while, for 2 reasons:
    -I have sensitive teeth too, and have issues with conventional dentists.
    -I feel that I am in need of detox but am exclusively nursing my 5 month old (also named Jonathan!:)) and don’t want to dump toxins into my milk. This seems like a reasonable thing to try to avoid that.

    I clicked on the links in this article and will be doing some research. I think this might be the push I’ve been waiting for to actually try it. I’ll look forward to watching your progress.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Amanda

    Have read about this before, but didn’t do it for fear of sounding crazy! Would like to try it, but am currently pregnant-do you know if it’s okay during pregnancy or better to wait until after baby comes (any day now)?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Amanda,
    I’m definitely not the person to ask about this…you may have noticed I didn’t really resolve Donielle’s question about nursing and oil pulling! My first thought is “it’s just food…how can it hurt?” but I clearly know nothing. Maybe ask Renee at her post, as she read a book, and I just read her blog post! May you have a lovely and safe labor – ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Renee Harris Reply:

    I also didn’t know about the nursing and oil pulling until I read Katie’s blog… although the book does talk about the toxins. I’m nursing, but will continue to oil pull when I can until I research a reason not to.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Renee,
    And I totally don’t know anything about the nursing aspect – it was just a question from Donielle because most detoxing is no good for nursing…but I am thinking that oil pulling only detoxes through the mouth, so it shouldn’t put toxins into the milk…you know? I’m sure Dr. Fife would have mentioned in the book if it wasn’t okay for nursing moms…
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Brianna S.

    Hmm . . . I think I’m curious enough to actually try this!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Mary Jo

    After every child I have, I always have some issue with my teeth- a cavity, sensitivity and “problem areas”. I’m convinced it’s the pregnancies! It just takes a lot out of you… literally. I did LOTS of CLO/BO combo, like a couple times a day. You are supposed to do it for a month. I also did oil pulling for the last one- not sure if it did anything as I only did it for a couple weeks.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Laurie Reply:

    I always had (have) tooth problems after birth, too, but I think I have figured out why. I think for me it’s the loss of minerals in the blood with heavy blood loss.

    I have a 6 week old, and before this pregnancy, I was having symptoms of diabetes, some scary heart irregularities, as well as thyroid and adrenal issues. I knew I had to do something about my health if I wanted to stay out of the hospital and off medication (we have our babies at home). Early on, I came upon The No-Grain Diet, by Joseph Mercola, and Cure Tooth Decay, by Ramiel Nagel. These 2 books have literally changed my life.

    In a nutshell, what I do differently now is: I don’t eat grains, sugar (refined sugars or too-sweet whole foods), or starchy vegetables (carrots, potatoes, etc.). I eat all the good fats I want (butter, cream, coconut and palm oil, lard and other animal fat, egg yolks, etc.), and lots of veggies, along with raw dairy and the best quality of meat I can afford. After a few days, I no longer craved sweets, and my appetite decreased.

    The result of these changes was that I wasn’t tired all the time, or foggy. There were days before, when I would just sit and stare sometimes because I didn’t have the brain power to figure out what I should be doing. Now if I’m tired, it’s because I’ve worked all day! I have so much more energy, my brain is clearer, and I realized a while back that the only time I had heart problems was when I went off-diet for too long. Most remarkable of all, (because everyone knows your teeth are in a continual state of decay, and the best you can do is slow it down, right?) is that my teeth stopped hurting (even one that I was told needed a root canal) and became whiter than they had ever been my whole life! One of the benefits of following this diet is that minerals become abundant in the blood, which is what remineralizes teeth.

    After I gave birth this time, (after which we had a hemorrhage to deal with) I was very anemic, and alarmingly, it took only a couple of weeks (at most – if it was less than that, I was too tired to notice!) for my teeth to return to their former state.

    I have been off-diet for several weeks, as I’ve just been too tired to make the effort, but I am slowly getting it together, and I fully expect to regain my progress.

    I never thought that the things that we have healed with nutrition could be done. Another remarkable thing that has happened is that our 14-15ish-age son badly needed braces. Instead we gave him whole raw milk and the best cod liver oil available. Within a matter of months, his teeth were nearly perfectly straight. Also, when we were younger, we had added bone broths and yogurt and the like to our diet, and at age 24 my husband grew an inch and his facial structure changed. People we grew up with and graduated high school with don’t recognize him.

    This is ridiculously long, but I felt I needed to share what has happened in our life. I hope it is helpful to someone.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Laurel Reply:

    Wow, Laurie, that is amazing! It is very motivating to hear about the great results in your family. Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Laurie,
    Totally awesome! We haven’t had as much bone broth around as usual; maybe that’s hurting my teeth, too. Thanks! :) katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Ciara Reply:

    Hey Laurie, delighted to hear that all worked well for you and you are healthy and happy.
    Just wondering about diet for teeth. I decided to try oil pulling but had to stop after a month or more because my teeth became so sensitive and they seem to have lost some protective layer and are more translucent. Is it possible that my oil pulling demineralised my teeth? I’m quite down about it because it had an adverse effect on my teeth and mood. Do you reckon it’s possible to remineralise and get my colour back in teeth and could u recommend a way.
    Cheers

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Annie

    I’ve heard of this but it sounded pretty unlikely to me (as much as the claims sound good – ha!). Will follow your progress! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lauren

    I don’t believe in the detox claims (I read a post on that somewhere, where a commenter suggested that the benefit might come from catching and spitting out mouth bacteria before swallowing, but of course I couldn’t find that for you now) but I CAN say that flakes of plaque literally sloughed off my teeth during my first few pulling sessions and my teeth feel incredibly smooth now.
    I started pulling to try to draw out a gum infection. I found a blog where a woman did this with her son twice a day when he told her he “had a tooth growing out of the side of his gum” (actually an infection) and had success reducing that.
    In my case it hasn’t gotten better or worse, but I also haven’t been very consistent with pulling. I often do it while the kettle boils and I check my emails, before breakfast.
    I started with olive oil and did get used to it but prefer almond oil now that I have some around. Coconut would be perfect for its antifungal properties, but it’s freeeeezing here right now and the whole solid fat + grossness factor is too much.
    My husband is totally unaware that I do this. I’m afraid to tell him as he’s already concerned that I’ve gone all weird on him!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Lauren,
    I hope you don’t get “caught”! ;) Just put a jar of coconut oil on the stove and it will be liquid for a day or so… :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Cheryl

    Katie,

    If you want some more actual info on oil pulling, here’s a website article by Dr. Fife (author of The Coconut Oil Miracle, and Oil Pulling Therapy). There are also links to an interview done with him (some of the links were broken but I was able to find the rest of the interview with a web search).
    http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/article%20oil%20pulling.htm

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lauren

    Oh, and I wanted to say: check that you’re getting Vit A, D, magnesium and calcuim, and eat a brazil nut now and again for selenium. You need them all, and all together, for bone health, which includes teeth. Bone broth is a good source.
    There are also recipes for remineralizing tooth soaps (to use instead of toothpaste) with normal ingredients just a Google away. Since toothpaste creeps me out anyway, I’d be willing to try that. But I know your situation is maybe not so conducive to yet another unmarked jar in the bathroom :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Mindy

    My husband and I have actually been trying to get into the habit of doing this for awhile. I have heard it recommended not to do it for more than 4 minutes at a time though, since your mouth fills up with toxins and bacteria that could potentially be absorbed through the mouth. One guy said to take 1 tsp of oil for 4 mins and repeat another couple times. He also noted that if the oil is not turning opaque when you spit it out, you’re not swishing enough (or not leaving it in long enough). We use olive oil, but my favorite to use (though more expensive) is sesame oil. YUM. This isn’t gross to me at all.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Stefanie

    I have heard of this but never tried it. I think my SIL tried for a little bit. I will have to ask her about it.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rachelle

    I tried oil pulling for about 10 days or so when I was sick with bronchitis. I don’t know how much it helped with the bronchitis–hard to say because I was also doing other things. But a few months later when I got my teeth cleaned, my gums were significantly better than they had been previously. I hadn’t anticipated that, but in hindsight, I attribute the improvement to the oil pulling.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Nicole Hough

    Katie – so glad you posted this. I first heard of this a few weeks ago and decided to try it the next morning. I didn’t melt the coconut oil first – ugh, the texture/ sensation was disgusting. I felt nauseous the whole day. But I AM curious about the effects – will follow your advice and melt and try again! Can’t wait to hear about your results!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rachael

    I started doing some oil pulling when a horrible sinus infection set in a few years ago. Not only did it help to pull out the mucus, but it made my teeth feel GREAT! I’ve heard some folks suggest caution if you have fillings as they may come loose :(

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Peggy via Facebook

    Related to no. 2. I keep my toothbrush on the kitchen windowsill so sometime during packing lunch and making breakfast I remember to use it.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Milehimama

    I’ve heard of this (but with sesame oil) and I can see how it would help reduce cavities and tooth pain. I can’t really wrap my mind around how it would detox your body, though. I would bet that it alters the ph of your MOUTH and inhibits bacterial growth – but to detox enough that it’s a worry for breastmilk? Not convinced. If you dig up any actual evidence, let me know!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Melissa @ Dyno-mom Reply:

    Yeah, I am kinda with Lisa on this one. I saw this post when it came through my email and decided to come back in a few days to look at the comments. While I have no plans to try it, I do think that it could have a positive effect in the mouth but I have a hard time seeing how it would detox. Does anyone have anything specifically on the detox process?

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Carrie

    Great post! I use sesame or coconut oil when I pull. I read a lot about why oil pulling is so good for you (it’s part of the Ayuvedic tradition), and the best info I can come up with is that it helps reduce bacteria in the mouth. And with a healthier mouth, the rest of the body can do its healing better. Think of how farmers always checked a horse’s teeth/mouth before purchasing! A lot can be said about our overall health based on mouth issues (as I’m sure many Dr Weston Price advocates can tell you!). So, it may not be that the oil pulling is actually healing other parts of your body so much as that when one system (mouth/gums/tissue/tongue/teeth) is getting more support, that frees up the body to tackle areas that it didn’t feel able to focus on.

    It’s important to mention that you need to spit the oil out and NOT swallow, and clean your mouth out well afterward. The oil is pretty full of toxins by the end of 15 minutes. In Ayuvedic tradition, you pull on an empty stomach.

    Hope this is helpful!
    Hugs,
    Carrie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Renee Harris Reply:

    Carrie,
    5 star comment!!
    Thanks for explaining that so well.
    Renee

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Cathy

    How weird! I just read about this 2 days ago in the Fat Flush for Life. In that book, it says that “dentist who practice holistic and biological dentistry believe that each tooth is connected to an organ. If that tooth has a root canal, is decayed, is an implant or even has been pulled leaving a cavitation (hole in jawbone), you can experience a whole host of health challenges in the associated meridian line of that tooth.” (pg 86) I wouldn’t think that it should affect pregnancy or breast milk since your supposed to spit it out but maybe somewhere there is a source that confirms that. I’m wanting to try this b/c I’m horrible about flossing and the last time I did go to the dentist, they said I had gingivitis and gum disease! YIKES! Oh, btw, the book I mentioned about mentions using sesame oil. Happy pulling!

    [Reply to this comment]

    jakia Reply:

    that would explain some of my health probs!
    PS: cold pressed olive oil is not as potent as coconut oil, but for those with (e.g.) Oral Food Allergy it could prove safer.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Dawn

    I haven’t done oil pulling consistently, but my daughter (9) has for the last two months. We recently discovered a cavity in a baby molar that was too large to fill. She had a little sensitivity, so that same day I had her start oil pulling with EVCO. The pain disappeared in about two days. While we were considering our options, she developed an abscess in the gum directly above the problem tooth. Still no pain though. A friend of mine had told me about a treatment using a two week sugar fast and oil pulling plus a couple drops of Thieves oil from Young Living. Her own daughter had eliminated an abscess caused after a cavity had been filled. Thieves is a blend of various essential oils with antiseptic properties: usually clove (which dulls tooth pain on its own), rosemary, cinnamon, lemon and eucalyptus. (It was cheaper for me to mix my own since I had about half of them already.) It’s taken about six weeks, and eliminating most grains, eventually all sweets (incl. fruit), and taking CLO/butter oil blend, but the abscess is now gone. Even Halloween candy and birthday cake hasn’t brought it back this week. Yay!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Stephanie

    I love to oil pull, as in I love how I feel when I do it. It helps me with stomach pains and keeps me regular! If I’m having trouble I start oil pulling 20 min. first thing in the morning and by day 3 I’m feeling fine and regular and it’s clockwork from there. The hardest thing is getting all the kids to stay on task while you are out of commission but I often take a shower or do laundry or whatever. I do find if I’m quiet and sitting during it I do a better job. I noticed I have cleaner teeth. I always brush with baking soda afterwards which also can help with whitening of your teeth. My favorite oil is sesame oil, but I alternate monthly with sunflower and sesame. My husband always uses coconut oil.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Terah

    I have actually never heard of this before, but just a couple of weeks ago, I found this natural toothpaste at Covered Bridge Festival and bought some. I wasn’t quite sure what to think of it and whether it could actually replace toothpaste. It’s called “Soap for Teeth” (http://naturemade-heavenscentsoap.com/catalog/c14_p1.html) and we have been using it the past couple of weeks. But, after reading your post, and this morning, reading the ingredients on the bottle, I am a little more convinced that maybe it actually could work pretty well. The ingredients says, “saponified coconut and olive oils, peppermint EO, and Stevia. I am waiting the results of your trial period, it should be very interesting. Thank you!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Nikki @ Christian Mommy Blogger

    Ok Katie, I have heard about this before, from Wardeh, and I think I just may give in. I totally didn’t “get” the idea and wasn’t convinced. But maybe it is worth a try. I am BF my little one and feel limited on detox solutions, but if this is safe I am all in!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Danielle

    I am interested in trying this. I just did it for the first time, actually, and 20 min. passed more quickly than i thought. I have sensitive teeth, caused by receding gums, caused by brushing too hard (oops).

    I also recently had a small cavity filled, and it’s been bothering me ever since! This cavity was discovered while I was pregnant, but I couldn’t have it filled then. So a few months postpartum I finally got around to having it filled. I’m sitting there ready to do the procedure, and the dentist says, “hmmm that’s interesting. It looks like it has recalcified.” I didn’t know such a thing was possible. Anyway, the dentist says, “we should go ahead and fill it anyway as it’s susceptible.” I don’t know any better and he really didn’t ask my opinion, so he went ahead and did it. When the numbing wore off, I experience a sharp pain when I bit into things. Long story short, I had to go back and have it redone. It’s better, but it still bothers me a little, which is so annoying since it didn’t bother before at all!

    All that to say, if there is any way to improve oral health naturally, I am there! I’m leary of dentists now.

    As for the recalcified cavity, between the time of the first visit and the filling, I had begun brushing with coconut oil and baking soda. Perhaps the benefit of that was greater than frugal natural toothpaste? I had also read Nourshing Traditions and had been drinking raw kefir regularly, soaking grains, and incorporating bone broth into our meals. Who knows? But I have a hunch this made a difference.

    We’ll see how this pans out. Can’t do it in the morning though. Still nursing a 5-month-old at night and need all the zzzz’s I can get. And once the 1, 3, and 4-year olds are up, I have to have a voice! Evenings will have to do, after everyone’s in bed!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Joyce

    I tried oil pulling with coconut oil a while back and once I got used to putting what seemed like an enormous blog of hard coconut oil in my mouth, it wasn’t too bad at all. My concern was that there was no way that I could do it on an empty stomach first thing in the AM. I am rushing around getting the kids ready for school, etc. etc. So, my question is, does it still work if done at some other time of day and how long do you have to wait after eating for your stomach to be truly empty, etc. I feel like I already have such a long list of daily health maintenance items that I already do that I would like some evidence of it being effective if not done at the recommended time, etc. Does anyone have any more information about timing, etc?
    thanks, Joyce

    [Reply to this comment]

    Danielle Reply:

    I read that it is recommended to work best in the morning, but if you can’t, just wait 3-4 hours after eating.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Joyce, I’m hoping so, too, as most of the time I’m not doing it in the a.m. too. Maybe Renee knows more? :) katie

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  • elaine

    I, too, had teeth issues after pregnancy – no wonder – since I was on a SAD diet. One of the comments said something about teeth being in a constant state of decay and I think with a SAD diet that would be true. But as other comments have noted a diet of real, nourishing foods can actually have a positive result with out teeth. My research has lead me to understand that teeth are actually designed to regenerate if given the proper ingredients … one of which is our own saliva! Most of the toothpastes on the market – even the “organic”, “natural” “flouride-free” ones have silicon in them and that puts a covering over our teeth that lasts for up to 24 – 36 hours. So, if we brush twice a day and get that silicon covering we never get a chance to let the saliva do its healing work. Amazing. A while back I went through a time where I just brushed with water at night before bedtime and let the saliva work all night long. Within a very short period of time I had remineralized 4 teeth that had damage from too-vigorous-brushing since I was a teen. Those areas were highly sensitive and now they are almost completely filled in! I need to get back to the oil pulling. I have heard for several years of the positive benefits and I don’t think we gave it long enough the first time. Thanks for reminding me! And, good luck with your attempts at it — I hope it gives you many positive results!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Casey

    I don’t assume everyone will get as great results as I have, but I thought I’d share my small success. After reading this post a few days ago, I tried pulling that night with cold presse d coconut oil, and I wish I would have taken a before and after pick, because my teeth were noticably whiter! Also, the next morning I noticed that a small red spot that had been on my lower gums for weeks was down to half the size. So I pulled again that morning, and you’ll never guess what happened that afternoon. I lost a very, very small piece of decayed tooth while eating! This may sound weird, but that was a blessing, as I’ve been tossing around the idea of going to get my teeth cleaned since switching to a WAPF diet, just to get all that deep decay and gunk out of there so my body can better heal my teeth. I guess there is no need to now that I’m pulling. Thanks for the post Katie, and good luck to everyone else brave enough to try it!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Oh, my goodness, that is SO COOL! I wish I had taken B&A pics too…
    yee hah! :) Katie

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  • Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker

    This is very, very interesting. I had never heard of this until I saw both you and Renee mention it! So, I’m guessing you will continue even though you are nursing? Will you give another update? Because I am now intrigued and *may* want to eventually try this. I am still nursing my 1-year-old and *may* be nursing her another year.

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  • Renee Harris

    According to Dr. Fife, for overall maintenance, it should be done at least once a day before breakfast. It can be done twice, which would then be before lunch or after dinner/before bed. Don’t snack between oil pulling and going to sleep. Continue to brush and floss daily after eating, as usual. (pg. 157).

    He does say that oil pulling when you first wake up is the very best time to do it.

    Renee

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  • Kari

    I just started this morning. I get up at 4:00 to exercise before the rest of the fam wakes up. I usually unload the dishwasher while I wake up enough to head out for a run so I just did the pulling then. The 20 minutes flew by and it wasn’t bad at all. My teeth feel incredibly smooth now and I can’t wait to see if I can tell any other benefits. Thanks for the inspiration, Katie!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sarah W.

    So from the standpoint of oil pulling advocates, is it something to do everyday or just for a period of time on a cyclical basis or something else?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Carrie Reply:

    I think it’s best to do it like every day for a week, then cycle off. I’ve read all the oil pulling sites out there and read Dr Fife’s book, and talked to my Ayuvedic physician about it. (They are more familiar with this than conventional drs.) Then wait a week and cycle on. But, really, just anytime is going to be good cuz you are giving your mouth a break from all the yucky bacteria it deals with (my understanding is it won’t hurt the good mouth bacteria).

    If you want to see just how gross the oil is after pulling for 20 minutes, try this:
    After pulling, spit into your toilet. Do this every day for a week. When I did this I started to see black grunge all along the toilet. So, like crud was growing out of the gunk I spit out.

    I cleaned my toilet and after a week, no black grunge. Then I spit again, and the same black grunge. Woah! There is clearly something going on, and I figure any time you can do a mini mouth detox, your body is thanking you!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Danielle Reply:

    Is it possible that the grunge is just a result of oil bulding up in the toilet, and then the bacteria in your toilet sticking to it? I guess the only way to tell would be to pour oil into your toilet when you aren’t pulling to see what happens(but who wants to waste the oil, right?) Just a thought. Believe me, I am hopeful that this could work, but I am still a bit of a skeptic.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Carrie Reply:

    I totally understand your skepticism, and the only answer I have for you is to try it yourself for a couple weeks and then see if anything changes. Some people see remarkable improvement in health and others barely any. But, remember, my Ayuvedic dr says that people often brush their teeth with oil, so in some parts of the world this would be a standard routine. (Pulling is more effort, but think how people gargle in the US with Listerine (toxic!!) – others gargle with oil.) In Ayuvedic, you don’t use lotion to moisturize or soap to clean your body – you use oil. So oil plays a large role there. My dad likes to oil pull but does it his own way – he just likes to gargle/pull with the oil for a minute after brushing his teeth. He then swallows the oil (since it’s Tropical Traditions coconut oil). I told him the suggestion not to swallow due to mouth toxins, but he feels the tummy would neutralize that and he’s only pulling for a moment. So, this works for him. We are all so different and that is why we all have such different responses and reactions!

    I am just someone willing to try anything in the name of improved health! Best wishes if you try it!!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Sarah W. Reply:

    Not that this would negate the benefits of oil pulling… but what is the philosophy or founation of Ayuvedic? Is it at all spiritual? Is there anything in it that contradicts Christianity? Again, I realize Christians can take good away from a variety of customs and practices, even if they are not Christian at their origin, but I am curious as to what Ayuvedic is all about. Thanks for sharing all your wisdom and experiences with us!

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    Lauren Reply:

    Ayurveda is an ancient form of medical knowledge from India. Like traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) it will have explanations for things that fit with the worldview (including religion) from which it came, but it is not in itself religious.
    Wiki has a whole write-up on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayurveda

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  • Renee Harris

    I have learned so much from you all! I wrote up my own one month experience summary: http://www.hardlotion.com/blog/2011/11/2/oil-pulling-my-one-month-experience.html

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Carrie

    I thought this was a great response and thoughts on the subject from a non Ayuvedic perspective:

    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-take-care-of-your-teeth/

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    Katie Reply:

    Thanks, Carrie!

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  • all on 4

    I found this post to be a very informative one. Sensitive teeth problem has become a very common problem and it has been seen that a lot of people are complaining. Some people are not at all thinking about the treatment, some are not aware of this.
    However, this is not a very serious problem but if one has this, one should treat it as early as possible.

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  • Crystal

    All of the research I’ve done (and that’s not much), has said to only use sesame oil or cold pressed sunflower oil and that other oils don’t perform as well. I haven’t read much about this Dr Fife, but I’m assuming he says to use coconut oil only? That bit of controversy is strange in itself. I’d love for it to work. I have some health issues that I’d love to be resolved just from swishing oil. I might give it a try.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Renee Harris Reply:

    Dr. Fife says any kind of oil works (I personally use a combination of coconut oil and sesame oil, with peppermint oil for flavor) but I think he’s already a coconut oil guru and that’s why he recommends it. I think his books have brought a lot of value to the health world (especially with promoting coconut oil as a healthy fat) but coconut oil is just plain popular right now so keep that in mind as you research.

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    Donna Reply:

    My tooth sensitivity got so much worse with coconut oil. I have a invisible crack in my front tooth, from stepping on a rake that slapped me in the face. The oil on this tooth caused extreme pain. I read somewhere about the acid in coconut oil, and perhaps this is the reason. I am going to try cold-pressed sunflower next, but if I get pain like that again, that will be the end of oil pulling for me! I am having luck however with mixing 1 oz. of organic extra virgin olive oil, or sunflower oil with a concoction of essential oils like clove, cinnamon, and lavender. The oils that are “cold” feeling, like mint, or tea tree, or eucalyptus also cause too much pain in the nerve. I am taking cell salts with calcium flouride, and I hope given time and determination, my teeth will remineralize, and the sensitivity will fade enough for me to add the “cold” essential oils into my routine. Good luck everyone. Sensitive teeth suck.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Joyce

    I think I lost a filling! Hi, I didn’t have time to go back through the posts, but someone mentioned that you might loose fillings! Well, I oil pulled with CO for 2 days and I one of my fillings fell out from inside a tooth and then I think one of my fillings on the outside of a tooth–I have lots of these because I overbrushed and wore away my gums. So, now I know that I need at least one filling at $250 a pop. So, do I keep on oil-pulling before I have dental work done, so that any other fillings that may fall out will do so before the? I don’t want any new fillings to fall out–why do fillings fall out anyway when you do oil pulling? Help! I really need advice! thanks, Joyce

    [Reply to this comment]

    Renee Harris Reply:

    I read the book through and through to find an answer when I first saw the comment about losing fillings. From what I gathered, Bruce Fife is big on having the fillings removed regardless, because of the mercury content. Here’s a quote from his book (pg 141): “ideally, all metal should be removed from your mouth. If you must have metal, it should be gold or another metal with which you are compatible. If your goal is optimal health, amalgam fillings need to be replaced with composites and root canalled teeth need to be removed.” As for what to do right now… I would probably keep oil pulling and then when I visit the dentist, follow Fife’s recommendation.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Joyce Reply:

    Thanks Renee, I am lucky that I only have composite fillings; when we had dental insurance, my dentist removed all my “mercury” fillings and replaced them with whatever the tooth-colored composite is. However, I had a dead tooth right next to my front tooth and it snapped off last year right before Christmas, so I had to have it pulled; have a bone implant; let that heal and have a piece of surgical steel implanted that a new fake tooth could be screwed into. All this toke 10 months and $5,000. I don’t know if this is considered a root canal, but it is right in the front of my mouth and I never smiled during the 10 months because of the gaping hole. I just can’t have this removed–I’m sure most of us are vain enough that we would feel embarrassed about not having a front tooth. I was hoping that oil-pulling would help if there was any residual infection. So I will keep on oil-pulling.

    Thanks again,

    Joyce

    [Reply to this comment]

    Renee Harris Reply:

    I wish I could tell you to definitely keep oil pulling, and there may not be anything wrong with doing so, but with that much dental work and money at stake, you might want to talk to a trusted dentist.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kathy Reply:

    Is there any way you could see a holistic/biologic dentist about your situation? You could certainly have a partial made — my niece had one made when her top front teeth were accidentally knocked out. It would be much less invasive than the procedure your dentist wants to do!

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  • Vikki Kay

    I would be really interested to know if oil pulling could help with fluorosis. My dear mum, in her quest to ensure that our teeth were not as dire as hers, had us all on fluoride tablets for most of our schoolyears. My sister and I both have brown marks and striations all over our teeth from this horrible habit.

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  • colleen

    okay, so i read this article and I thought what the heck, can’t hurt even if I don’t get any results. Here are my reasons first for trying it out. I have TMJ and have to wear a night guard, so far for almost 30 years. I am only 46 and very worried about losing my teeth because I now have bone loss. So here are my findings: I pull with refined coconut oil because I don’t want to waste my expensive unrefined coconut oil. Every morning for 2 weeks I pull for only about 10 minutes (time constraints being a single mom of 2 with hectic mornings). The first thing I noticced waste the plaque/tarter coming off my front teeth. I was looking in the mirror one day and thought I had something stuck in my front bottom teeth so of course I pick it with my finger, low and behold, a big piece of tartar literally popped off. A few days later I am looking in the mirror and I thought I saw that I had a crack in my other front bottom tooth. Well, it wasn’t a crack but the seperation of tartar from my tooth. Again with my finger, I pick at it and another piece comes off. My teeth look like I have just come from the dentist after a cleaning. Nice opened spaces between the teeth. Also, I smoke (I know) and drink coffee (again, I KNOW) the brown yucky spots on the back of my teeth from doing both is GONE. I don’t see that my teeth having gotten any whiter, but I have never had white teeth. Another result: I had/have what I believe to be acid reflux. I have a lump feeling in the base of my throat. since pulling, I don’t have that same feeling. I know that if I gave up smoking and drinking coffee that it would be completely gone. I am working on that. So, long story short, I will continue to pull and continue to cut back on the back vices I have but I do believe that the pulling is working and bringing health back to my teeth. Also, if you can refer to the Dr. Bass way of brushing your teeth, I think more people will find greater results. Good Luck.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Colleen,
    Wow, that is awesome!! I need to keep it up myself… Thanks for the testimonial! :) Katie

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  • Mary@The Encouraging Home

    Thanks for this great post! I have been doing oil pulling off and on for a year. I started with Sunflower oil, but like coconut oil better(for everything! :) My sons do it some…we are not blessed with good teeth here and it has helped with the their health and bacteria that is abundant in their mouths. A friend of mine has done it consistently for a long time and loves it and all the benefits!

    A great product that we have started using is Living Clay. We drink it for health benefits, bathe in it, use it for cuts, bruises, use it for facial products, and brush our teeth in it-makes teeth white, helps with sensitivity, REALLY helps cavities that are already there heal, and help receding gums. It sounds amazing and it is. Plus, it is CHEAP! It is our new first aid product and goes with me everywhere. Just another way to remove toxins and help your teeth. You can read about it here: http://www.theencouraginghome.com/living-clay.html and at http://www.aboutclay.com.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Joyce Reply:

    Hi Mary, I have done a lot of research on Living Clay and how it heals cavities and the rest of the above. However, PLEASE BE WARNED ABOUT DRINKING IT. There have been reports of people who developed severe mineral deficiencies from drinking Living Clay because it binds with minerals in your body and they are excreted with waste products. The properties that make it so great at removing impurities from skin, mouth etc. are those that cause it to bind with the minerals in your body and “remove” them. People have become very ill from drinking it on a daily basis for even a short period of time. Check out the “About Clay” Yahoo Group.

    Best wishes,

    Joyce

    [Reply to this comment]

    Mary@The Encouraging Home Reply:

    Thank you for your comment. The clay that we drink is a VERY pure form of clay, designed for drinking small amounts, as well as for purifying the water. We are very careful to take supplements, as well as take minerals to keep our body in balance. As with a lot of things we do, we take time off and give our bodies a healing break. We have been very impressed with the benefits we have seen using the clay in all forms. Thank you again for your comment.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Joyce Reply:

    Thanks Mary! Glad to hear that you are so well informed about the correct use of clay. So many people hear about something new and they just jump right in and start using it without doing any research first. Those are the people that I worry about!

    Best wishes,
    Joyce

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    Mary@The Encouraging Home Reply:

    Thanks, Joyce. I know what you mean and I appreciate your concern. We have to be just as careful with natural things as well as medications. We have a duty to our family to be vigilant in researching thinggs for our families in all areas.

    Thanks again!
    Mary

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    Joyce Reply:

    Mary,
    Do you think it is worth $20 to buy the book “Living Clay” or do you think that there is enough info on the internet to suffice? I have been going back and forth about buying it, but $20 is a lot if the info is available for free on the internet, just as it is for Oil-Pulling. I am planning to buy some Living Clay to brush my teeth with where my fillings fell out–possibly from oil-pulling: I assume you stick your toothbrush in the hydrated clay and brush away?

    Thanks,
    Joyce

    [Reply to this comment]

    Mary@The Encouraging Home Reply:

    So sorry to just now respond! Yes, I believe the book is worth. Such a great reference book! There is a ton of info online, but I like having it at my fingertips, categorized. We have used the hydrated clay for brushing, but the book recommends sprinkling the dry clay on the brush, as well as putting dry clay on gum and tooth problems. Some people make a toothpaste with the hydrated and add peppermint oil to it. Hope that helps!
    Mary

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Elena

    Okay, this is crazy! I have never heard of this and yet, I have never been so intrigued! I would LOVE to hear the updates as the benefits sound fantastic! However, with the dental work in my mouth and my fear of the dentist,…..I want to make sure it’s not going to put me right where I don’t want to be getting things ‘replaced’. :o\ Thank you for the GREAT post and all of the GREAT comments!!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Holli

    I’ve oiled pulled before as a way of whitening my teeth. It works great with noticable lightening within 3 days. I can’t attest to any of the other health benefits-I just didn’t notice, but then, i wasn’t paying attention to those other possible improvements. I DO know that using a mouth rinse with tea tree oil can help with sore gums (NOW brand has a good mouthwash). I’ve also heard that myrrh relieves toothaches, but I’ve never tried it and I don’t know how it would be used, (oil, tincture, powder mouth rinse?) I’m not sure about tooth sensitivity in general. Hormones could be causing the problem. Yay hormones.

    Holli (Master Nutrition Therapist, candidate)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jeannine

    Is there any other kind of oil you can use since I am allergic to coconut oil?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Carrie Reply:

    Sesame oil works great and is considered the “real” Ayuvedic way. I think Dr Fife started suggesting coconut oil, so many people try that. My understanding is to just use a high quality version of the oil you pull with.

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  • Biscuits

    Hi there. i have been oil pulling for a few weeks now. i read that since your organs are tied in with your tongue (various parts stimulate variosu organs) that it helps to cure whatever ails you in those areas. also since the bateria in your mouth is able to travel into your blood stream, that is why getting rid of the bacteria out of your mouth keeps the rest of your body clear. it is not a detox, but getting rid of the bacteria in your mouth and not letting it go down, essentially lets your organs breathe and regenerate. at least that is what i got from all my readings. my ayuervedic dr. has wanted me to do this for years but i was always too scared. I am worried however about my fillings coming out. then what? more dental work?

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  • Adele via Facebook

    I have been trying this for about a week and my teeth are whiter. How do you stop that swallow reflex? That is my biggest challenge.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • AmandaZ

    I was pretty diligent for a few months before I noticed the whiteness factor kick in. Some people also experience some greyish streaks on their teeth – which I was told is the detox effect and should go away. The ick factor actually goes away after a few weeks of it.

    I gave it up when I got pregnant. I’d read too much about avoiding detox while you’re pregnant. Plus, oil pulling and morning sickness DO NOT get along well.

    I’d love to get back to it – but baby’s not due until July, and then I’m not sure if I should while I’m nursing. If anyone has any info on oil pulling during pregnancy and nursing, I’d be interested

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Amanda,
    Well…I did it while nursing, but I don’t know any more than that! Sorry! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Marya via Facebook

    I have read about this before but just don’t know if I could actually do it.

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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