Sunday Soiree: National Fresh Breath Day

With summer wrapping up, the new school year looming ever closer, and personal things that have been totally out of my control ... lately, PTSD has been my constant companion. Depression and anxiety are the poltergeists haunting my every day, and I'm struggling to keep up - even WITH to-do lists, reminders, trackers, journals, and alarms to keep me moving through each day.

But despite the struggle that is daily life with PTSD, I do have some really exciting things in the works, including a revamp of my Patreon page and another super exciting sponsorship I can't wait to tell you guys more about. (Want a hint? See if you can find one here.)

But first, today is August sixth, National Fresh Breath Day, and I thought - what better day than today to share my favorite way to keep my mouth healthy and my breath as fresh as possible?

If you've been reading here for any length of time, you'll know that I'm kind of a caffeine addict - I love the way a packet of Strike Force Energy wakes me up and amps my energy levels for hours without giving me the shakes or any other crazy side effects, and I love that there's no crash when it wears off. (Try some for yourself: click this link for 20% off this already inexpensive energy boost, and make sure you've got AFLBRANDI8634 in your discount code box!)

Still, sometimes I actually want that little jolt - or maybe I'm just craving a hot drink - and when I do, that's when I turn to coffee, which I also love way more than I probably should. (See a bit about what coffee I'm currently drinking and why in this post about my summer morning routine!)

The problem with coffee is that while coffee itself can actually be good for you, too much of it (or super-strong varieties) can wreak havoc on the health of your mouth and digestion - and it can leave you with some really horrifying leftover-coffee breath, which is never good. Thankfully, there is a way to help battle the notoriously awful oral effects of coffee addiction, and here's mine: make the extra effort to keep a healthy mouth.

My favorite healthy-mouth technique is oil pulling, which I've been using off and on for the last several years with amazing benefits. When I'm oil pulling regularly, I tend to notice these things most:
  • better breath
  • increased sense of taste
  • cleaner teeth that stay clean longer
  • diminished gum redness, puffiness, and sensitivity

But It's Oil. Isn't It Gross?
In a word? Yes. Oil pulling definitely takes some getting used to, and I'm no different from anyone else in my disgust at the idea of putting plain oil in my mouth - especially if you follow the popular advice to use coconut oil, which is "solid" at best and "utterly revolting" at worst. I'll tell the truth - oil pulling is really gross until you get used to it. That being said, here's the number one way I combat the grossness:
  • As previously mentioned, I prefer using liquid coconut oil - which is still thick and oily, but considerably less gross. I also find that coconut oil has a better, more mild flavor than other oils I've tried.

How Do You Do It?
My process is pretty relaxed, actually. Many people advocate oil pulling as being most effective when performed on a daily basis - first thing in the morning, with a night-gross mouth and an empty stomach. But for me, the most convenient time to do it happens to be bedtime, and I don't always have enough mental energy left to spend on it at the end of the day - so with that being said, I generally do my oil pulling in the evenings about two to three times a week, and my process usually looks like this:
  • Take somewhere between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of oil into your mouth. Again, liquid oil is much easier to tolerate!
  • Tip your head back and press the oil toward the front of your mouth as you bring your lips together, making sure you end up swishing just oil and not a huge air bubble. I'm not sure if this is required or not, but it makes the process much quieter, and thus, much less annoying.
  • Swish the oil gently back and forth from cheek to cheek, making sure to "pull" (and "push") the oil between and around your teeth. If you know you have areas of concern with plaque and/or tartar/calculus buildup, make sure you focus on keeping the oil in those areas while swishing. Keep the oil moving gently through and around your mouth for about 15-20 minutes. If your jaws and cheeks get sore or tired, you're swishing too fast and/or too hard.
  • Once your time is up, spit the oil out. DO NOT swallow it - not only because that's gross, but also because if the claims are true and oil pulling really does stick to all the bacteria, tartar, plaque, and other nastiness in your mouth, then do you really want to move it down to your stomach? Yeah, I didn't think so, so spit it out. Also, don't spit it in your drain or your toilet. Most people say to spit it in the garbage can, but that's actually pretty gross too - which is why I tend to spit mine into a ziploc snack bag. I like that this particular method helps me dispose of the nasty in a way that doesn't come back to bite me in the ass when it's time to take the trash out - spit, zip, toss.
  • Immediately brush your teeth as you normally would, using whatever toothpaste you generally use.
  • Follow up with floss, and if you like to use it, mouthwash.

Wait - Claims? What Claims?
While oil pulling only reached fad status in recent years, it's actually a very old process common to Ayurvedic medicine, and is given credit (as are most cure-all fads) for improvements and benefits in all sorts of categories, such as these:
  • clears sinuses
  • cures tooth decay
  • detoxifies the mouth and body
  • improves immunity
  • increases energy levels
  • kills bad breath
  • relieves hangovers
  • soothes dry throat
  • strengthens teeth, gums, and jaw
Oil pulling is also credited with improvements in lots of more specific ailments, including (but of course not limited to):
  • acne
  • asthma
  • bloating
  • dermatitis
  • diabetes
  • insomnia
  • headaches and migraines
  • hypertension
  • PMS
Oil pulling is also thought to be a great aid in seeking whole-body health through the mouth - after all, the mouth is the entrance to the human body, through which we ingest almost everything we use to aid and heal our bodies. It stands to reason that a healthy and well-functioning mouth would lead to a healthier, more well-functioning body in general. And on the flip side of this, an unhealthy mouth ridden with bacteria is likely to be depositing those bacteria, along with various bacterial waste products, directly into the bloodstream flowing through all of our organs and functioning systems.

Twenty minutes doesn't seem like such a hassling time investment when you put it that way, does it?

Right. A "Cure-All." Because We All Know How Realistic THAT Usually Is.
Well see, here's the thing - I don't know if it's a real cure-all or not. I don't know if it's worth doing or if it's a total waste of time. I'm not a scientist or any sort of dental professional, I don't play one on TV, and I haven't even researched dentists well enough to write one in a story.

Frankly, I don't want to. I mean, I know dental professionals are important and all, but ... well, it's just not exciting.

But what I do know (and why I'm still trusting oil pulling to help me maintain the health and wellness of my mouth - and through my mouth, the rest of my body) is that it works in clear and obvious ways for me. What I do know is that I like the way my mouth feels when it's still literally squeaky clean no matter what I've eaten or when I ate it.

And as I mentioned before, I do notice all-over, whole-body benefits of regular oil pulling, even when I don't change anything else.

Still skeptical? Give it a fair try (I recommend daily for one week, to be fair) and see how you like it. After all, what have you got to lose?

Today's "Featured Favorite Product" is another great way to keep fresh breath - this Spearmint gum from Pur, which is aspartame-free (I"m mildly allergic), sugar-free, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, GMO-free, vegan, and delicious. I also love that this gum also comes in bubblegum, chocolate mint, cinnamon, cool mint, peppermint, and pomegranate mint - so there's pretty much a flavor for every taste! The link above goes directly to my favorite flavor (on Amazon), but clicking the photo below will get you a six-flavor combo pack for just over $10 (also on Amazon) - that way you can try them all and choose your own favorite!

I still remember how happy (and relieved) I was to first find this brand, after wandering through several different health food stores in search of a gum that didn't have aspartame, wasn't loaded with sugar, and came in flavors other than cinnamon. Finding out how sensitive I am to aspartame and how many things I ate, drank, or chewed that had it listed in the ingredients was a little crushing, and for a long time, gum was one of the things I really missed being able to have. These days, I can usually chew regular gum (in extreme moderation) without having a reaction, but I'm still totally thankful to have found Pur, and I almost always have a little case of it stashed somewhere close.

Quick Disclaimer: Since I am using affiliate links in this post, remember that if you choose to click product links on my site and end up purchasing through them, I will receive a (very) small commission for referring you. Rest assured that this is at no extra cost to you, but my family and I appreciate your support. (If you'd like to see a list of other companies I'm currently working with on a more regular basis, click here.)
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  1. First time reader here - actually this post is what brought me here - and very excited to continue reading! I too have a love of coffee and yes I've noticed the effects on my teeth and breath. I have heard about oil pulling and have even tried it (once)... It actually wasn't that bad, I just rarely have time to take care of my personal needs with two toddlers (one with Sensory Processing Disorder) and a hubby who works a LOT. Mornings are usually pretty crazy here so I found it hard to do this at the recommended time. I'm glad to hear that it works to do it at other times too! I had not heard the other benefits to oil pulling so thank you for sharing them! I think I'm going to give this another try at a more convenient time for me. Oh and I just microwave mine for a few seconds to turn it to oil (don't do it too long or it can burn by the way, I think I did like 10 seconds at a time).

    1. I definitely recommend trying it again and seeing if you can make it work for you - you'll notice a difference in your smile and likely in other areas as well. I'd say you probably shouldn't microwave the oil though ... I've read that heating the oil that way can cook out all the things that are good about the oil.


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