Oil Pulling…Is it effective for dental health?
A lot of our patients have been asking us lately about oil pulling. For those of you who are not familiar with oil pulling, it involves swishing a tablespoon of oil (coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil, etc) in your mouth for twenty minutes. In the process, you “pull” the oil in between your teeth to help keep it clean. The oils will attract the fatty layer in bacterial cell membranes, which essentially would pull the bacteria from the teeth.
Coconut oil, which you can find at any local grocery store, has a “magical” reputation. It has antibacterial properties, which has been said to help everything from your immune system to acne and now your teeth! But what is the science behind it?
- Coconut oil has antimicrobial activity and is effective against S. mutans and Candida albicans. Unlike chlorhexidine (also used in mouthwashes for its antimicrobial properties), coconut oil does not cause brown staining and altered taste sensation.
- Oil pulling supposedly draws toxins out of the blood. The exact mechanisms behind this claim remain unclear.
- Studies show that there was a statistically significant reduction of plaque upon oil pulling using coconut oil.
- Oil pulling runs the risk of developing lipid pneumonia. Oil may be unintentionally aspirated during oil pulling. If the oil contains high levels of bacteria, then it may cause an infection in your lungs.
So what’s the takeaway from all of this?
Oil pulling has been shown to improve oral hygiene when practice correctly and regularly. Our office recommends that if you want to use the benefits of oil pulling, you can add it to your oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing! Oil pulling requires at least twenty minutes to be effective.
If you are short on time and want the benefits of oil pulling/coconut oil, try Cocofloss! We carry it at our office. It’s thick, fluffy fibers are infused with coconut oil. Flossing takes less than a couple of minutes and is the most time effective way of removing debris from in between your teeth!
- Shanbhag VK. Oil pulling for maintaining oral hygiene – A review. Journal of Traditional Complementary Medicine. 2016;7(1):106-109. doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.05.004.
- Gbinigie O. Effect of oil pulling in promoting oro dental hygiene: A systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Complement Ther Med . 2016;26:47-54. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2016.02.011.