Last week, I had the most interesting conversation with a fellow Trader Joe’s shopper regarding coconut oil. As we both reached for the same jar – like the gloves in Serendipity – I stopped and watched in awe as he loaded six into his basket. He then looked at me, taking note of my judgment, and abruptly says “I LOVE THIS SHIT.” Dude. Clearly.
But then we began talking, and he told me he is a swimmer and since he is required to shave his legs he likes to put coconut oil on to help with irritation. I then told him I was buying mine to do a hair mask since my hair has been a dry, crusty, mop since Costa Rica. For the next ten minutes we stood there, Googling other uses for coconut oil, coming to the mutual realization that it is without a doubt one of the most versatile products on this planet. It has been said to whiten teeth, kill bacteria, smooth skin, make common chicken taste like you actually tried, mend damaged hair, and probably can reduce anxiety attacks and even make your tits bigger – the possibilities seem endless.
But since I’m a freak about teeth and drink an above average amount of black coffee, I was very intrigued by the idea of oil-pulling as a whitening agent. I’ve heard of other whitening remedies, none of which my broke ass can afford. But as we all know, I will try pretty much anything at home in an attempt to save money, sometimes sacrificing both my pride and my personal appearance. I’ve sizzled my skin off from DIY bikini waxes, I’ve box-died my hair that made me resemble burned hombre candy corn, and I’ve even done an at-home chemical peel that made me shed layers of my face for upwards of six days. Saving money is important.
But even though I’m about two years late to the oil pulling party, I decided it was worth a review. So how does it work?! Technically speaking, your salivary glands are a safe haven for toxins to reside, leading to infections and all kinds of gnarly shit. Oil pulling increases saliva production and attaches itself to the bacteria growing in your glands that you eventually spit out. In turn, ridding yourself of the plaque and pathogens resulting in fresher, healthier, and apparently whiter teeth.
The process is relatively simple. Prior to eating or drinking anything, put about a tablespoon of the white clumpy substance into your mouth, swishing around, pulling the oil back and forth through your teeth for 20 minutes. Over time the texture turns into a frothy, lukewarm mess, and that’s when you know you are doing something right. Once you start foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog, you are going to be tempted to spit or swallow (insert jizz joke here). Avoid both, and continue the 20 minute process without trying to gag. If you can oil-pull for the first time and not gag, YOU are the real MVP.
My first concern with this experiment was attempting to incorporate 20 minutes into my morning ritual. Since I shower at night like a 12 year old, I typically set the alarm 15 minutes prior to my departure, leaving myself minimal time to do anything. Once my alarm goes off, I reserve 2 minutes to stretch and bitch in silence, wondering what I’m doing with my life and how I’m going to survive the day. The next five minutes are dedicated to stumbling around my room, selecting something mediocre to wear and debating what the fuck to do with my hair. Then I take at least 2 minutes to attempt to be attractive, which is usually a waste of 2 minutes. Then I spend my last few moments frantically looking for my keys. Adulting is hard.
But something about oil-pulling made me excited, so I decided to try it for 10 days because: SCIENCE! The following are my amateur tips & findings:
- Spoiler alert: This is not fun and games. This is a serious jaw workout. Not only must you remain attentive enough that you don’t drool all over yourself like a fucking child but you also must apply a significant amount of effort to literally pull the oil through the crevices of your teeth, hence the name oil-pulling. Struggle with jaw related issues? Find yourself another hobby
- Make sure to dispose your oil/spit combo into the trash and not in the sink
- Get a second toothbrush dedicated to solely brushing after pulling
- Multitask! Shower, pick out your outfit, read a damn book. Do literally anything besides think about what you’re doing. Otherwise your suffering will feel longer than the first and only time you watched the Blair Witch Project
- Results? My mouth definitely feels cleaner. I don’t know if it’s hindsight biased mixed with optimism or if it actually works. But my mouth feels significantly fresher after oil-pulling compared to regularly brushing my teeth
- Are my teeth whiter? Perhaps. I already have relatively white teeth but I do see somewhat of a difference
- It appears positive reviews online are from hard core oil-pullers who persist this tedious shit for over a month
- Will I commit to this tedious shit for a month? God no. But I will keep doing it for a bit and report back.
Have any of you tried oil-pulling? If so, what were your results?!