Dental Care/Mental Care

Everybody likes nice, white teeth. I wanted to get some, too, but decided to go all Ayurvedic after checking out the lists of ingredients of most of the teeth-whitening products (industrial-strength bleach, anyone?). After studying the options for this natural approach, I concluded that oil-pulling and charcoal toothpaste will do the trick.

I purchased some rather fancy produce to trick me into sticking to the daily routine of sloshing coconut oil in my mouth, and set about with the tooth-whitening project. Herewith some observations:


This, I fear, goes into the “Gwyneth said so” -category. Yes, all the buddhist monks and Ayurvedic people of India have surely oil-pulled the living shits of their gnashers since the beginning of time, but seriously, we are doing this because Gwyneth said it’s amazing. It’s essentially taking a teaspoon of coconut oil (preferably virgin, raw, organic etc., ie. not the stuff you fry your ​pommes frites in) in the morning before you eat anything. Then you slosh the oil around in your mouth for about 20 minutes.

Yes, that is twenty minutes extra to one’s morning routine. I ask you, lifestyle gurus of this world, why must everything be done the first thing I wake up, on an empty stomach? But I mean everything? When do these people go to work? They meditate, oil-pull, do a ten-minute pilates leg-workout, dry brush, blow-dry, read a couple of pages of Virginia Woolf and jot down their thoughts on an empty stomach. Then of course follows the routine of artfully arranging blueberries in neat rows atop chia-bowls before immortalising these Meisterstücke on Instagram, but that’s rather another topic. My question remains: when do these people work?

I consulted an acquaintance who happens to be a dentist whether he’d witnessed teeth-whitening miracles through oil-pulling. He stared at me somewhat blankly, as in “oil-whattawhatta?” (he’d never heard of it), but concluded that “If it makes you feel good, keep doing it, I don’t think it’s doing any harm.” 

My posh coconut mouth wash came spiced with spearmint, which does make the exercise slightly more exciting (plain coconut oil is a bit dull), but you can easily recreate this concoction by simply adding a drop of peppermint oil in you coconut oil tub, mix it, Bob’s your uncle.

What happened? Well, I suppose you do give your facial muscles a bit of an exercise in the morning, which increases circulation and can be generally considered positive. I did not see any change in my teeth, though, which is possibly because I have to go to work in the mornings and decided to prioritise getting dressed over standing immobile for 20 minutes, mouth full of coconut oil. So there. 

Tip: Never, ever spit the oil in the sink. The oil solidifies when cold and will clog your pipes. 

Charcoal Tooth Whitening Polish

The charcoal particles actually do whiten your teeth, and the good thing is that you don’t have to do this on an empty stomach, and it’s not something you will do every day. I don’t have any before/after pictures to show you, but I can imagine keeping this habit because I feel my teeth are a bit whiter. But please, in the name of tooth fairy, be careful: don’t go for the powders that you must turn into paste yourself. I had a fancy pot of ready-made polish, which still left my sink looking like downtown Baghdad after a particularly nasty air-strike. Charcoal is black, and it will be all over the place, making everything black (it washes off, though, so no worries). Also don’t brush your teeth with charcoal anything while wearing your new white Ann Demeulemeester shirt. 

So yes, it’s messy, but it works if you keep it up. Use together with your regular toothpaste, which can be anything for all I care, except the kind that has those blue plastic bits in it. They kill the fish and everything else in the sea. Don’t buy that shit. 

In case you’re looking for things to do while oil-pulling, have a look at Ruby Wax’s latest self-help “How To Be Human – with a neuroscientist and a monk”. Wax is a rather hilarious American comedienne who has settled in the UK and has turned herself into a mindfulness-guru following her acting/TV-writing career. 

The book is something that you can skim-read for one-liners and affirmations while taking care of you teeth, but I found it a bit messy to read. Also the verbatim reporting of their threesome discussions were quite tedious and often not very funny. The book is not supposed to be ha-ha funny, but it definitely tries to go for a certain witty lightness that is very difficult when you are discussing forgiveness and mental health at the same time. 

So here! Do let me know if you have achieved magic by oil-pulling. I am intrigued, as, I’m sure, is Gwyneth. 

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