You may have heard of “oil pulling”, a holistic oral health trend that has become very popular with online bloggers and “influencers.” Today, our Hudson family dentist discusses the practice of oil pulling, and whether it is actually effective in ridding the mouth of unwanted bacteria.
What is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is the process of putting a tablespoon of liquid oil, usually a vegetable oil such as coconut oil, into one’s mouth, and swishing it around for 20 minutes before spitting it out. The teeth are then brushed with a toothbrush and toothpaste to eliminate residual oil. The practice is said to “pull” bacteria and toxins out of the mouth, hence the name “oil pulling.”
Is Oil Pulling Effective?
Those who swear by oil pulling claim that it whitens teeth, freshens the breath, and destroys harmful oral bacteria that cause tooth decay. However, very little research has been done to prove or disprove this theory. On the surface level, though, most dentists believe that oil pulling is just as effective, but no more effective, than swishing any sugar-free substance in the mouth for an extended period of time. That’s because swishing anything around your mouth for several minutes, even water, will dislodge more bacteria than of you were to do nothing at all.
It isn’t impossible that oil, with its “sticky” qualities, could make the swishing more effective. However, those same qualities might cause sugar and carbohydrate food particles to adhere more easily to the teeth, effectively increasing the risk of tooth decay. Therefore, if you decide to try oil pulling, be sure to do it in combination with regular brushing and flossing techniques. Oil pulling is not an effective substitute for brushing and flossing, as it can’t get in-between your teeth and beneath your gums.
The Best Way to Healthier Teeth: See Our Hudson NC Dentist
The verdict: oil pulling probably doesn’t harm the teeth; but it also probably doesn’t help any more than using water or mouthwash. In fact, fluoride mouthwash has more benefits than oil because the fluoride is able to remineralize tooth enamel. Fluoride is a naturally-occuring mineral, similar to calcium or table salt, that has been added to municipal water sources for over 75 years in order to improve community oral health. If you’re in search of a holistic remedy, we say, go with what’s tried-and-true!
If your oral health or tooth coloration is a concern, the next best thing to do is visit our Hudson NC dentist office. We can clean and polish your teeth, provide in-office tooth whitening, and examine your teeth and mouth for signs of developing issues. To schedule an appointment with us, please click here!