Slightly off the topic of food, I have been trying something new recently: oil pulling. This is basically a technique of swishing oil in the mouth (like a mouthwash) to promote good oral health. While the subject is not directly related to food, it still leads me to a recipe worth sharing.
I drink quite a bit of tea and coffee throughout the day, which has significantly yellowed my teeth over time. I have heard many opinions that oil pulling helps to whiten teeth. The practice is speculated to have many health benefits, including prevention of gum disease, helping skin conditions, and treating asthma, but many of these effects have not been thoroughly researched enough to be conclusive. It is often instructed to swish the oil (commonly coconut or sesame) in the mouth for twenty minutes per day before spitting it out. That sounded a bit excessive to me at first, but in my efforts to find natural tooth-whitening remedies, I finally decided to give it a try.
I purchased a jar or coconut oil and decided to test the technique for myself. I figured there is no harm in trying, as it seems to be mostly agreed upon based on my research that it promotes good dental hygiene at the very least.
Other than the amount of time needed to devote to the practice, there is one other drawback: it is not the most pleasant-tasting experience. The first time I tried it, the solid coconut oil (which melts to liquid when being warmed by the heat of your mouth) tasted rather neutral. After the first ten minutes, however, it began to taste odd. Nothing terribly gag-worthy, but definitely DIY personal care recipe-worthy.
Inspired by the qualities that make traditional mouthwashes palatable, the idea was very simple: add something minty and something sweet. Peppermint essential oil is also noted to have dental health benefits, plus it freshens breath. Combining the oils with naturally sweet stevia extract creates a regimen that is much more pleasant-tasting and easier to swish for the entire twenty minutes.
Coconut Oil Mouth Rinse
2-3 teaspoons organic virgin coconut oil, solid (room temperature)
2-3 drops peppermint essential oil
2-3 drops liquid stevia
Scoop the desired amount of coconut oil onto a spoon, creating a well in the center to hold the other ingredients. Add desired amounts of peppermint oil and stevia into the well; no need to mix.
Swish thoroughly throughout mouth for approximately 20 minutes daily; expel mixture into a garbage can (avoid spitting it into the sink). Follow with regular brushing.
This recipe yields one serving, and I find it easy and convenient to measure it this way. You can, however, just as readily multiply it as you wish. Just be sure to stir the ingredients together thoroughly if doing so, since your mouth will not be incorporating them as it does with a single-serving.
Have you ever tried oil pulling? Let me know your thoughts on it and/or experiences in the comments.