Ask your Dentist in Prescott AZ: Are the rumors about Oil Pulling true?

Ask your Dentist in Prescott AZ: Are the rumors about Oil Pulling true? - Person scrunching up face

Ask your Dentist in Prescott AZ: Are the rumors about Oil Pulling true?

Oil pulling can reverse the negative effects of gingivitis, stop the progression of periodontal disease, alleviate bad breath, prevent cavities, and whiten your teeth! Wow, who would not want to experience all of these benefits from an inexpensive, organic at home treatment? The above statement may have some ring of truth, but just like most things that sound to good to be true… well you know the rest. In our internet-based age of misinformation, oil pulling has become one of the latest cure all health crazes that is gaining popularity as it is discussed on many popular social media sites. According to the American Dental Association, there is very little scientific evidence regarding this technique, and claims are considered unsubstantiated and misconstrued.

Oil pulling is also referred to as “kavala” or “gundusha,” it is most often performed using pure coconut oil and is a natural remedy that has been utilized to cleanse the oral cavity of harmful periodontal bacteria and toxins. It is an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique that dates back over 3,000 years. Oil pulling involves swishing one tablespoon of oil in your mouth for approximately twenty minutes. Although coconut oil does contain Vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant, and it also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties due to the lauric acid and monolaurin content, it should not be solely relied upon as a “miracle” treatment for many dental ailments. Oil pulling can be beneficial as a supplement to your oral hygiene routine, but should not replace regular dental cleanings, or daily brushing and flossing habits.

Using oil as a rinse for oral care in the time before modern medicine did provide beneficial outcomes. It was a great practice for reducing bacteria; not to mention, oil pulling does have a place in developing countries without access to dental care or oral health aids. With that being said, there are various peer-reviewed journals and science based studies that show it is not as effective as standard mouthwash containing chlorhexidine. Chlorhedxidine has proven to be superior over oil pulling in reducing numerous bacteria in the oral cavity including Streptococcus mutans (the main bacteria responsible for cavities). The advantages of oil pulling have been largely credited to the mechanical act of swishing alone. This is because swishing with liquid or oil for a prolonged period of time encourages saliva production, which has buffering capabilities, and removes particles and bacteria from teeth and gums.

As a dental professional and a representative of your Dentist in Prescott AZ, I struggle to convince patients to comply with a simple two minute brushing regime twice daily followed by properly flossing once daily, so in my opinion, advising patients to swish with oil for twenty minutes a day seems unreasonable. If an individual were willing to dedicate this much time to his or her oral hygiene, then using these twenty minutes to brush, floss, and rinse would be far more advantageous when compared to oil pulling alone

My consensus on oil pulling: I wouldn’t recommend it over brushing or flossing your teeth, but it is better than nothing.

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (10/21/2016) Britt Reints (Flickr)