NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — You can use oil to cook with, but would you swish it around in your mouth for 20 minutes every day, all in the name of beauty and better health?

As CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson, “oil pulling” is a growing trend that borrows from a centuries-old tradition that using different kinds of oil for healing.

Jessica Danvers said her bright while smiles comes courtesy of a container of coconut oil, which she began using as an alternative to conventional teeth whiteners.

“I used a gazillion different strips and ointments and things like that, and my teeth are super-sensitive now,” she said.

Manhattan endocrinologist Dr. Florence Comite described the method as “putting oil in the oral cavity in the mouth, and swishing it around and keeping it going for a while — the notion being you’re pulling out toxins from the body.”

Comite said whiter teeth isn’t the only benefit.

“There’s the thinking that you’re actually rebalancing the body, and in effect, you’re having an impact on lots of different conditions,” she said.

Dr. Wayne Brueggen, a dentist, said oil pulling can help prevent plaque buildup, kill bad breath and even treat gum disease.

“It can’t hurt,” Brueggen said. “There is at least one study that shows it reduces strep bacteria in the mouth.”

Danvers not only has whiter teeth, she says she’s also seen an improvement in her skin and hair.

“I use it for a moisturizer,” she said. “I use it in my hair as like a hair mask. I use it for my eczema.”

Anna Datillo said oil pulling helped her get rid of chronic congestion.

“I think it works really well, and my teeth are, I think, whiter, so that’s always a bonus,” she said.

Oil pulling, however, requires a real time commitment and patience, because it can be several weeks before results are seen.

“In order to make changes, you have to be persistent,” Comite said. “So even with oil pulling, you would want to do something like that on a regular basis for a longer period of time.”

Anyone considering trying oil pulling should first check with his or her doctor.

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