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What is the Truth About Oil Pulling?

Posted on August 28th, 2023

Carson City dentists at Advanced Dentistry by design discuss the practice of oil-pulling using coconut oilCoconut oil is still making its mark on the public; from cooking to skincare it seems to be the be-all-end-all solution for all kinds of health issues. One area where coconut oil has sprung up in popularity is in the oral health community. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have likely heard a friend, family member, hair-dresser, or Uber driver rave about the benefits of oil pulling. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? As your trusted dental professionals at Advanced Dentistry by design, we don’t recommend starting any kind of alternative treatment without a thorough examination, make sure you are up to date on your re-care appointments!

What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling comes from India and Southern Asia. It is a practice where you swish about a tablespoon of edible oil in your mouth for several minutes and then spit. A 2015 study published in the Nigerian Medical Journal reported that people who used oil pulling regularly saw a reduction in plaque formation. However, the study, and other experts’ site, the lack of definitive research on the benefits. In fact, the American Dental Association does not recommend oil pulling and states there is no known correlation between oil pulling and teeth whitening, cavity prevention, or improves overall health.  

Is Oil Pulling Safe?

If you try oil pulling, based on anecdotal stories of friends, use caution and always speak to your dentist. Some things to watch out for if you try oil pulling. First, you may experience upset stomach and diarrhea. Some people who try oil pulling also make the mistake of using an oil they are allergic to. Be careful, while you can use sunflower, sesame, or coconut oil, check the full ingredient list and be sure you aren’t allergic to any of the contents. Also, be sure you do not ingest the oil during or after swishing. This can lead to the unwanted swallowing of bacteria-laden oil, and if you consume too much of the fatty oils, it could lead to increased cholesterol.  The biggest no-no is overhauling your tried-and-true oral health routine with an alternative like oil pulling. The ADA (and your dentist) believe in the proven methods of oral hygiene which are brushing twice per day and flossing. This gold standard is gold for a reason. 

What Else Can I Do for Teeth Whitening, Cavity Prevention, and Gum Health?

There are a lot of claims made about coconut oil. Many people seek it out as a more natural route to whiter, healthier, teeth and gums. However, there is no research to back up the claims it can accomplish those things. So, what are the alternative options? 

  1. Teeth whitening in the dental office

If you are looking for a whiter smile, we can help! We offer teeth whitening that is safe, affordable, and the best part? Overseen by a dental professional — oh, and we 100% know it works! If you really want to whiten your teeth, let us know and we can find an in-office or at-home solution you are excited about.

     2. Cavity Prevention

Cavity prevention is a primary concern for us as your dental professionals. While swishing with coconut oil sounds inviting, we know the best ways to keep your mouth cavity-free is to understand your risk factors, use good oral health practices (brush and floss), and see us regularly. 

     3. Gum Health

Healthy gums are important. If you notice any of the early warning signs of gingivitis, it’s time to come see us. If you experience bleeding when you brush your teeth or floss, or if your gums are red or swollen, we need to look. There is a lot we can do to help you maintain healthy gums, if you are considering oil pulling as a solution, please see us first. 

Swishing with oil probably won’t cause any harm (unless you are allergic or you swallow it!), but it won’t do much good either. It would be nice if there were a silver bullet or magic oil to guarantee healthy teeth and gums, but for now, brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist are the best things you can do! Contact us at Advanced Dentistry by Design to schedule an appointment!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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