What Is Oil Pulling?

What is oil pulling, you ask?

It is actually an old folk remedy that originated from India. It is said to help protect your mouth and teeth from harmful bacteria. Likewise, some say the oil pulling method might be an alternative to standard modern products (such as mouthwash) that are used to protect your tooth enamel and prevent cavities.

You may have heard of this if you are someone who is heavily invested in their dental health. But does it work? Some people have speculated that its benefits and easy use are simply too good to be true.

And you might be right. There are many reviews online praising the virtues of oil pulling but the research is definitely lacking to back up these claims. And there are possible downsides if not tales of caution. Some research has pointed to lipoid pneumonia from aspiration. Certainly, more research is needed.

In order to give you the full picture, I’ll give you a dentist’s insight into what oil pulling is and if it can beneficial for your dental hygiene and overall health.

What Is Oil Pulling?

Simply put, oil pulling is the use of natural oils (namely, coconut oil) as a mouth wash. All you need to do is take a tablespoon of oil and swish it in your mouth.

The results of this tend to prove the theory that the oil strips away harmful bacteria in your mouth. It does this by helping you produce more saliva, which helps negate harmful bacteria. The “pulling” happens as you swish the liquid in your mouth and through your teeth. As it coats your teeth and gingiva, a full protective layer of the oil will wash away bacteria and plaque.

A 2016 study concluded, “oil pulling when performed as recommended, can be safely used as an adjunct to maintaining good oral hygiene and health along with the routine tooth brushing and flossing with promising positive results.”

How Oil Pulling Works

Take a tablespoon of oil and swish it in your mouth for up to 20 minutes. If your jaw becomes sore, you can swish for 5-10 minutes.

It’s important that you don’t swallow the oil, not an easy thing to do over a 20 minute period. Practice this with your chin up and try to keep the liquid towards the front of your mouth. Once the 20 minutes is up, simply spit out the solution and rinse with regular tap water. You will still need to practice your normal dental routine, so make sure to brush and floss after the oil pulling method.

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Benefits of Oil Pulling? Snake Oil or Miracle Treatment

Those that believe say the antioxidants that are generated through the procedure help give your mouth an overall clean feeling because it’s pulling harmful cells away from your gums and teeth.

Some say that oil pulling:

  • Protects Against Bacteria
  • Helps with Bad Breath
  • Whitens Teeth
  • Helps with Dry Mouth
  • Alternative to Mouthwash

But there is no scientific evidence to back up any of the above claims and one must be careful not to fall for fake science or charlatan theories.

RELATED: How Do You Treat Gum Recession?

Do you want to know more about oil pulling? Contact me, Dr. Siegel, at Big Smile Dental in Chicago and I will do my best to answer your questions!

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