The ancient dental practice of oil pulling is seeing a resurgence in recent times. The ancient Indian practice of swishing a teaspoon of oil in the mouth for twenty minutes is supposed to pull toxins out of the body. Many people swear by the health benefits that it can supposedly give, by not only helping to clean the mouth but also improve overall health.
Despite all the hype, there have only been a handful of clinical trials published. The American Dental Association recommends a regimen of brushing, flossing, and antiseptic mouthwash, since there is not enough evidence to determine the benefits or risks of oil pulling. While it probably won’t hurt to add oil pulling to your oral health routine, do not use it as a replacement for more tried and true methods.
If you do decide to engage in the practice, be aware that a lot of the claims made online are too good to be true. While it may lower the load of bacteria in the mouth, it cannot by itself prevent cavities and tooth decay. Certain oils, such as sunflower and coconut oil, were found to have some antimicrobial properties, especially when “enzyme modified,” or having started the digestive process by mixing with saliva. Using coconut oil, in particular, seems to have an effect on microorganisms such as Streptococcus mutans and Candida albicans, which are often related to dental health issues. On the other hand, some studies showed oil pulling to have no noticeable effect in eliminating biofilm on the teeth and mouth.
Oil pulling is a lengthy process, taking up to twenty minutes, and it has been found that antiseptic mouthwash is not only faster but more effective at eliminating microorganisms in the mouth. Once pulling is done, the oil cannot be spat into the sink, as it will build up and clog the pipes.
Oil pulling is not a miracle cure that will prevent you from ever having to visit the dentist again. If you decide to add it to your oral health routine, be sure to keep up with regular checkups and don’t forget to brush and floss.