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11 May 2023 / Laura Garvin Gomez

Does Coconut Oil Whiten Teeth?

Oil pulling is a tradition as old as time, but how does oil pulling with coconut oil help whiten our teeth?

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Woman smiling on the beach with white teeth.

Shiny smiles are a feature we all aspire to have.

Bright, white teeth can really make a difference when it comes to accentuating your facial features and presenting your best side to the world. But, it isn't always as easy as it seems to maintain them. 

For a select lucky few, this feature is something that naturally occurs. In most cases though, simple practices will have to be implemented to prevent your teeth from gradually losing their sheen. 

If you're allergic to certain teeth-whitening ingredients, getting rid of the pesky stains that come with everyday eating and drinking can become all the more difficult.

Before opting for an expensive dental treatment to reverse the damage, why not try using coconut oil for whiter teeth instead? We'll be detailing all the facts you need to know about using coconut oil for teeth whitening. 

Can coconut oil whiten teeth? 

Brought into the mainstream by A-list celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow, teeth whitening with coconut oil has become the new craze amongst wellness lovers who prefer a natural approach to their beauty routines.  

Coconut oil teeth whitening treatments are certainly not a new practice, however. For centuries, Ayurvedic societies have been using oils for oral health under a practice known as "oil pulling". 

Oil pulling with coconut oil is said to not only whiten teeth, but also help get rid of plaque build-up, prevent gingivitis, and regulate bad breath. 

What is oil pulling? 

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves cleaning the oral cavity with fatty lipids.

Similar to mouthwash, oil pulling is achieved by swishing an oil (or a combination of oils) around your mouth for several minutes. The process is said to help fight bacteria and neutralise odours in the mouth, leading to improved oral health overall. 

Coconut oil is said to be an exceptional choice for oil pulling because of its high levels of lauric acid. Lauric acid is a natural antimicrobial agent that is known for its positive effects throughout our bodies. 

Learn more about oil pulling and how it can improve your oral health.

How does coconut oil whiten teeth? 

During the process of oil pulling, coconut oil can whiten teeth using its proponents, which are made up of colonised bacteria.

This bacteria is surrounded by fatty membranes that are naturally attracted to plaque, allowing it to bind and loosen the build-up in and around the teeth and gums. By removing the build-up of plaque, coconut oil can facilitate healthier, whiter teeth over time. 

While oil pulling with coconut oil doesn't necessarily work for everyone, there is little to no evidence of it producing any kind of side effect, so it's certainly worth a spot as an additional step in your daily routine. 

Before trying it out though, it's important to note that there are a couple of lifestyle factors that may impact the success of teeth whitening with coconut oil.

If you drink an excessive amount of coffee or wine - two beverages known for staining teeth - oil pulling alone may not be enough to completely remove build-up. It will, however, at least temporarily brighten your teeth, so it may still be an option for you.

Close-up image of someone smiling.

Does brushing with coconut oil whiten teeth? 

If you're not a fan of oil pulling, you may be wondering to yourself, does brushing your teeth with coconut oil whiten them too? 

To answer is maybe, but certainly not as effectively as oil pulling. Most of us brush our teeth for the recommended 2 minutes that it takes to achieve decent oral health. Oil pulling, by contrast, can take as long as 20 minutes for any successful effects to be seen.  

So, unless you plan on scrubbing your teeth for 20 minutes (which could lead to gum damage over time), using coconut oil while brushing them is unlikely to do much. 

How to whiten teeth with coconut oil

Whitening your teeth with coconut oil is actually a very simple process, although the taste of the oil may take a while to get used to. Here are some key steps to follow for whiter, brighter teeth: 

  1. Scoop out a teaspoon of coconut oil from your container. 
  2. Place the teaspoon of oil in your mouth. If you're using virgin coconut oil, allow it to liquefy on your tongue before starting. 
  3. Once the oil is in a liquid state, swish it gently across your mouth. Make sure the coconut oil touches every corner of your mouth, but DO NOT gargle on it. 
  4. Continue swishing for a minimum of 5 minutes, or up to 20 minutes if you prefer. 
  5. Once you're done, avoid spitting the oil into the sink. Instead, take a piece of dry tissue paper and spit into it. Spitting directly into the sink can lead to blockages over time. 
  6. Rinse your mouth out with water to rid of the coconut oil taste. 

How fast does coconut oil whiten teeth? 

How quickly coconut oil whitens your teeth will depend on a number of factors; namely how often you choose to oil pull, and for how long. 

If you're oil pulling daily for around 20 minutes or so, results can appear in as little as three days. If you're doing it every now and then, chances are it will take a lot longer for you and others to notice a lasting difference. 

From a personal perspective though, teeth brightening should occur almost immediately every time you oil pull. That's because the process will at least remove any surface-level plaque from your teeth and gums. 

Try incorporating a few minutes of oil pulling into your morning oral health routine for the best and most effective results. 

What else can coconut oil do for oral health? 

Teeth whitening isn't the only thing that coconut oil can help with when it comes to taking care of our mouths. Alongside the obvious, some advantages of using coconut oil for teeth include: 

  • Helping to soothe a dry throat
  • Healing dry or chapped lips (you can also apply coconut oil directly on your lips to tackle this) 
  • Eliminating bad breath 
  • Aiding in the healing of bleeding gums 
  • Removing signs of inflammation and discomfort

Coconut oil is also an inexpensive, all-natural product, so is ideal for achieving your desired look without breaking the bank or opting for harmful alternatives. 

If you have any serious oral health complications though, coconut oil will not be enough to help reverse them. Always visit your dentist if you experience any pain or significant inflammation in your teeth or gums. 

Coconut Illustration.

So, does brushing teeth with coconut oil whiten them? No. But does oil pulling? Absolutely - regarding you keep at it enough. 

Oil pulling may seem like a bit of a weird process at first, especially if you've never tried it before, but it's generally easy to get used to and will be more than worth it in the long run. 

If it's easier, try oil pulling with another plant-based oil like sesame to get used to the process before opting for coconut oil. Never try oil pulling if you think you may be allergic to any of the ingredients.

After a while, the process could very well lead to pearly whites that even Gwyneth Paltrow herself would be proud to display. 

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