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Dental Trends: Oil Pulling

The ancient practice of swishing certain types of oil in your mouth has been around in India and Southern Asia for centuries. It has been re-introduced into our society over the last 20 years and frequently shows up on our Facebook newsfeeds. It is a natural remedy and because of this, there tends to not be a lot of scientific data to substantiate the health benefits it claims. Some people will claim it does wonders, some will say it does not make a difference, and others have reported negative effects. Read on to find out why people are oil pulling, how to oil pull, and the American Dental Association’s stance on the topic.

There are many claims out there as to the benefits of oil pulling. The procedure has been suggested to: kill bad bacteria in your mouth, reduce bad breath, prevent cavities, reduce inflammation to improve gum health, and whiten teeth. Because of the lack of scientific evidence, these claims have not been proven, so don’t throw out your toothbrush! Brushing with a toothbrush, using fluoridated toothpaste and flossing are still the tried and true methods for achieving the above mentioned claims. It is believed that swishing with anything for 20 minutes, even water, may have the same effect. Swishing with mouthrinses have been found to be very effective and much easier to do.

So how is it done? The oil pulling is done by swishing a high-quality edible oil such as coconut, sesame, olive or sunflower oil. It can be swished for 1-5 minutes and up to 20 minutes. About one teaspoon is the amount that is needed. It is recommended that the oil pulling is done before eating breakfast and that the oil should not be swallowed but spit out in the trash can to avoid clogging the sink pipes. It is not a vigorous swish, otherwise you may experience jaw pain as 20 minutes of swishing is a loooong time! Afterwards, you should rinse with warm water.

According the American Dental Association, “Currently, there are no reliable scientific studies to show that oil pulling reduces cavities, whitens teeth or improves oral health and well-being. Based on the lack of scientific evidence, the American Dental Association does not recommend oil pulling as a dental hygiene practice. The ADA continues to recommend that to maintain good dental health you brush twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste and floss between your teeth once a day and don’t use tobacco.” Source:

And there you have it, oil pulling cannot replace your traditional oral hygiene routine and if I feel like swishing, I’ll be using mouthwash instead.

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