I’m not quite sure how the world got so polarised that oil pulling has already become more or less passé within the online community. Yet whenever I mention it in real-life I get a ‘Huh??’ Followed, when I explain it, by a look that rapidly turns into mild suspicion, and finally backing away. Indeed my dentist all but fell about laughing when I mentioned it, so bang go my hopes of being taken seriously as a human being there again.I am still half-convinced that it is an elaborate April Fool’s Day scam, but such is my general teeth paranoia that I’m willing to add most things into my oral hygiene routine. Most people have impressive nightmares about genuinely freaky things. I have recurring nightmares about my teeth falling out. I am that shallow.
So: the oil pulling. Just in case you have been living in a darkened room over the past few months, the theory is that you take a mouthful of oil and swish it around your mouth for 20 minutes. This, we are told, ‘absorbs toxins’, and heroically whitens teeth, freshens breath, and has all manner of general health benefits. We are now three weeks in this delightful routine - I say we because my husband will jump onto any health trend likely to extend his life beyond a century, and practically pushed me out of the way in his haste to get to the kitchen cupboard. But I can’t honestly say I’m noticing any difference.
I suppose I should have started this out more scientifically, perhaps taking before and after photos. But instead I spent the best part of a week worrying about how best to dispose of said oil. The internet warned of dire things happening with solidification and drains, and repeatedly spoke of spitting into ‘the trash can’. The latter concerned me even more since our bin bags are not known for their durability at the best of times, and I could see an unpleasant situation arising, which would result in much general household discord. Mind you, it might put the foxes off ... Funnily enough, this issue wasn't really being discussed online, so I guess most oil pullers are just a more laid-back bunch than me. Or have industrial bin liners. My solution - if anyone is still reading - was to line a nappy bag with tissue before (excuse me) spitting. Ingenious or what? Although possibly not the best ever news for landfill.
So, disposal sorted, we moved onto oil. Apparently you can use most sorts of oil. However, I can tell you for nothing that cooking oils have a high gag factor, and that anyone who can endure a tablespoon of oil for the suggested 20 minutes of swishing is a better woman than me. In our house we have gone for the lightweight option of coconut oil, which after cooking oil is mildly tolerable, but in general terms a poor way to start one’s day. There is one great advantage to oil pulling though, and this alone has compelled me to share my experiences with the world. And this is that one becomes sadly unable to engage with children who are under the illusion that hanging in the bathroom with mummy is a fun morning activity. Faced with the reality that mummy can now only respond with a series of ‘Mmm’s’, and that any bickering will simply be met with an inexplicable round of gesturing, they have quickly concluded that more fun is to be had elsewhere in the house. And there we have it: 20 minutes of (relative) peace. Spoonful of oil, anyone?