Most of us are aware by now of the many different health benefits of coconut oil, but few realize just how great it can be for oral health too – not only can it be used to remove bacteria and promote healthy teeth and gums, but it can make your teeth whiter and brighter.
Teeth whitening has become commonplace today, with the teeth whitening industry growing rapidly over the past decade or so. In fact, it’s said to currently generate more than a $11 billion a year. It’s no longer relegated to the dentist office either, with non-dentists offering teeth whitening products in malls and beauty salons.
The problems with typical teeth bleaching treatments…
Teeth whitening doesn’t come without risks. Although those that market the services claim that they’re minimal, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry says there can be a problem of sensitivity following bleaching, and that it should only be done by a dentist. Just one of the risks comes with bleaching a decayed tooth, which can kill the nerve, resulting in the need for a root canal or extraction.
In most bleaching products in the U.S., both in the dentist office and at home, contain 35 percent hydrogen peroxide. A 2012 study found that this concentration of peroxide can lead to changes in the tooth enamel that make it rough, as well as resulting in weaker teeth and lessened phosphate in the teeth’s deeper layers. Additionally, hydrogen peroxide, even at diluted concentrations, may release mercury from silver fillings and cause them to deteriorate, which could lead to poisonous toxins getting into your bloodstream. Research in 2006 evaluated peroxide and found that mercury vapors were released from discarded pieces of silver filling.
How coconut oil can naturally whiten your teeth…
That said, why would you want to do that to your health? At the same time, of course, we all want whiter teeth, and that’s where coconut oil comes in. Coconut oil teeth whitening has become increasingly popular as one of the best natural methods for whitening yellow teeth. An ancient method used primarily in Ayurvedic medicine, it’s an outstanding oral detoxification technique that may sound strange, but all it involves is swishing around a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth like a mouthwash.
Oil pulling works by detoxifying and cleansing the oral cavity, similar to the way soap gets your dirty dishes clean. It literally sucks the bacteria and toxins out of your mouth to create a clean, antiseptic oral environment that contributes to the proper flow of dental liquid that is needed to prevent cavities and disease. There are thousands of different types of bacteria in the mouth. Some of them are friendly, others aren’t. Those bacteria in the mouth create a biofilm on the teeth, which is a thin layer used to adhere to the surface, you know it better as plaque. While some plaque is normal, when there is too much, it can result in a host of problems, like inflamed gums, cavities, bad breath, and yellower teeth.
Coconut oil doesn’t whiten teeth by bleaching but rather with lauric acid. This medium chain fatty acid helps get rid of that bacteria and plaque, major contributors to yellow teeth and has proven to provide both anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. This has been confirmed in a number of studies, including research published in April 2015 in the Nigerian Journal of Medicine. The experts looked at 60 volunteers who were between the ages 16 and 18 and used oil pulling as part of their oral hygiene over a period of 30 days. After just seven days of oil pulling, their levels of plaque and gum disease were dramatically reduced.
While there haven’t been a ton of studies just yet, as science seems to have just recently begun to take this ancient art more seriously, research is continuing to grow. Another study was highlighted in The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, for example. The researchers reviewed holistic approaches to oral health and found that oil pulling was one of the most effective natural solutions for preventing tooth decay and loss. The study authors praised it for its ability to cure over 30 systemic diseases, and noted:
“Oil pulling is a powerful detoxifying Ayurvedic technique that has recently become very popular as a CAM remedy for many different health ailments. Using this method, surgery or medication could be prevented for a number of chronic illnesses. The oil therapy is preventative as well as curative. The exciting aspect of this healing method is its simplicity.”
In fact, they say, it’s certainly not just for oral health, but it helps to purify the body’s entire system, as Ayurvedic medicine says each section of the tongue is connected to various organs, like the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, stomach, small intestine, colon and spine, which is similar to how reflexology works.
Why coconut oil is the preferred oil…
As sesame seed oil is a staple in India, many Ayurvedic practitioners use it for oil pulling, however, coconut oil offers so many benefits, it’s become the oil of choice for this technique in the western world. You’ve probably at least heard of coconut oil’s positive effects on health – just a few include improving digestion, balancing hormones, killing off candida, slowing the signs of aging, increasing HDL, or “good,” cholesterol and decreasing LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, lessening the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, balancing blood sugar, boosting energy levels and more.
Benefits of oil pulling for oral health…
As mentioned, there are numerous benefits to your oral health by practicing oil pulling.
Killing bad breath. Oil pulling is excellent for battling halitosis, or bad breath. This is one benefit of oil pulling that all sources agree on. Likely because of its ability to help wipe out harmful bacteria in the mouth, oil pulling is known for its ability to help improve the breath and reduce plaque in the mouth. In many cases, although not all, caused by the smell of chemicals and gases produced by bacteria in the mouth. It makes sense that if you can eliminate some of these bacteria, you can get rid of that bad breath. In fact, one study conducted by researchers from the Department of Pediatric Dentistry in Tamil Nadu, India, oil pulling reduces Streptococcus mutans bacteria, which is a significant contributor to tooth decay, in the plaque and saliva of children.
Reducing plaque and gingivitis. Gingivitis is caused by inflammation of the gums, and occurs when the immune system starts attacking the bacteria in the plaque. Research in 2009 which compared oil pulling and chlorhexidine in adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis found that oil pulling and chlorhexidine mouthwash were effective against gingivitis.
Whitening teeth. Of course, whiter teeth is what you’re probably looking for if you’re reading this article. And as mentioned, oil pulling is great for this very thing as it’s safe, natural and comes without side effects. In fact, experts that conducted a study featured in the Journal of Contemporary Dental Hygiene found, “Edible oil-pulling therapy is natural, safe and has no side effects. Hence, it can be considered as a preventive therapy at home to maintain oral hygiene.”
Some of the other benefits of coconut oil pulling include:
- Healing bleeding gums
- Reducing inflammation
- Fighting tooth decay
- Soothing a dry throat
- Preventing cavities
- Healing cracked lips
- Boosting the immune system
- Clearing the complexion and improving acne
- Strengthening the jaw and gums
Coconut oil pulling means that you don’t have to worry about harmful chemicals, it doesn’t taste bad as compared to other oils used for pulling, it’s inexpensive and readily available, and it’s easy to use.
How to oil pull:
To start oil pulling, you’ll need about a tablespoon, or slightly less if it feels like it’s too much of raw, cold pressed, organic coconut oil. Simply place it into your mouth, and allow it to warm until it’s liquified, if it isn’t already a liquid. Swish the oil in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes, making sure that it covers all areas of your teeth and gums. Don’t gargle with it, just keep swishing. Afterwards, spit it out into a trash can or similar container rather than your sink as it can clog your drains. Rinse your mouth with warm water, and then brush your teeth as usual. You can do this a few times a week, or every day.
Coconut oil toothpaste:
With so many benefits coconut oil brings to support oral health, it’s no surprise that it can make an outstanding DIY toothpaste as well. In fact, It has a near-perfect makeup to act as an effective toothpaste.
According to MindBodyGreen, there are numerous reasons to use it as part of a homemade toothpaste recipe.
It doesn’t contain hazardous chemicals. Conventional toothpastes like Colgate contains an antibacterial chemical known as triclosan, which has been associated with serious concerns about antibiotic resistance and the disruption of the endocrine system. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals can lead to a myriad of health issues, including: breast, ovarian, prostate, and testicular cancer, preterm and low birth weight babies, precocious puberty in girls, and undescended testicles in boys. There has been some research that has found triclosan may lead to fetal bone malformations in rats and mice, which hits at negative hormonal effects. Flouride is another big problem, as it’s actually a toxic industrial waste product that acts as a poison in the body, even in trace amounts.
It fights cavities. Research has also shown that by massaging coconut oil into the gums every day for 10 minutes at a time, it can significantly reduce bacteria that causes decay, as well as plaque.
No foaming agents. Many if not most toothpastes contain chemicals that are used to create foaming action, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES). Surfactants don’t just make it foam, they interfere with the functioning of the taste buds by breaking up phospholipids that’s on the tongue. That’s what enhances bitter tastes, and is believed to be the reason behind why things taste so bad right after you’ve brushed your teeth. Coconut oil helps to maintain a more natural balance of lipids on the tongue, while also offering powerful antibacterial properties. Additionally, SLS has been associated with painful canker sores, so if you’re prone to them it’s a must to use a toothpaste that doesn’t contain SLS.
It’s cheap. All you need is a small amount of coconut oil to clean your teeth – and, one jar, assuming you use it just for toothpaste, will last for months.
It’s easy to make. Coconut oil toothpaste is easy to make – all you need is just a few ingredients. The recipe below is a great tooth whitening toothpaste to start out with.
Natural Coconut Oil Toothpaste Recipe:
In order to get the most benefits, without any harmful chemical residues, it’s best to use organic coconut oil when making your toothpaste.
- 1/2 cup coconut oil (like this one available on Amazon)
- 2 tbsp baking soda
- 15-20 drops of peppermint, spearmint or cinnamon essential oil, depending on taste preference
- 10 drops myrrh extract, if desired – it’s known to offer powerful antibacterial effects to boost the effectiveness of your toothpaste
- First melt, or slightly soften your coconut oil if it’s solid.
- Mix in all other ingredients and then combine thoroughly. If your coconut oil is still semi-hard, use a fork rather than a spoon to stir. If you are using totally melted coconut oil, you will need to stir several times as the mixture cools, in order to ensure the baking soda is incorporated.
- Put the resulting mixture into a small glass jar – if you have a number of family members who will use it, you may want to split it into smaller jars.
- Allow the toothpaste to cool completely before using.
- Once cooled, simply dip your toothbrush in and scrape a small amount onto the bristles, or use a spoon to apply it to the bristles instead.
Where To Buy Coconut Oil (Or Where To Claim A Free Jar!)
When purchasing coconut oil, it’s important to opt for cold-pressed, unrefined, virgin coconut oil that has been ethically sourced.
If buying from Amazon, then this jar of Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is one of the most popular and meets all of the above criteria.
Alternatively, you can claim a free jar of Thrive Market Organic Virgin Coconut Oil from here on Thrive Market with a $29 purchase.
Thrive Market is a relatively new online marketplace selling wholesome products at wholesale prices. They sell the best in healthy foods and natural products from the most popular ethical brands, but with one difference… everything they sell is typically 25-50% off retail price.
If you often find yourself buying natural health and beauty products, non-toxic home supplies, wholesome foods and more, then you’ll quickly see how much you can save by shopping at Thrive Market.