'Oil Pulling' trend claims to whiten teeth, improve health

By: Lauren Evans
By: Lauren Evans

LANSING, Mich-- (WILX) Forget whitening strips and special toothpaste, even professional whitening treatments. The answer to a brighter smile might be in the baking aisle at the grocery store.

It's known as "oil pulling" and those who do it, swear by it.

"I sleep better at night, it helped whiten my teeth," Candace Ebbinghaus said. "I've had some good benefits from it."

Ebbinghaus has been oil pulling, with coconut oil for 15 minutes a day, for a month.

The process is pretty simple, you take your oil. You scoop out a tablespoon and start swishing. There is a literal hard part. Unless you melt the coconut oil ahead of time, it's a solid at room temperature.

"It's kind of gross, but you just chew it and then it melts," Ebbinghaus explained.

Then you swish it around for 15-20 minutes and spit it out. "It's supposed to pull the toxins out of your body," Ebbinghaus said.

Oil pulling is a relatively new topic, but it dates back to ancient Indian culture. The theory being the oil; coconut, sunflower, sesame, as you swish it around, bacteria clings to it.

When you spit out the oil, you get rid of the toxins and whiten your teeth.

"There's no proof that says it's going to work, it's just by testimonial," dentist Dr. Christine Tenaglia said. "Some people say oh it works great, well I don't know. But the jury is still out and I would say give it a try. The oil pulling is certainly not going to hurt you."

For Ebbinghaus, the proof is in the pulling.

"The weekend I started it, I did it on a Saturday morning and I did it on a Sunday - the next day - and I forgot to do it Monday," she said. "I just Tuesday, I was like, gosh, I didn't sleep as well last night. It was just really weird. So I did it again and I slept better."

Oil pulling is not a substitute for regular brushing, flossing and dental check-ups. If you try it, spit the oil into the garbage can, not the sink. Coconut oil will solidify and can clog your pipes.

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