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February 3, 2015

Oil Pulling to Better Oral Health: Fact or Fiction?

Filed under: Oral Health — smtusa @ 8:52 pm

dental patientAt LC&Z General and Cosmetic Dentistry, we receive questions from time to time, about alternative methods of oral health care. Recently, we have received a few questions asking if there are any oral benefits to this new craze of “oil pulling,” which is swishing with vegetable-based oil, such as coconut, sesame, or olive, in your mouth for up to 20 minutes. In order to answer your questions, our Altamonte Springs dental office did some extra research and will share what we have learned.

What Does Oil Pulling Do?

The first thing to note is this is not a new practice. Oil pulling has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, claiming better oral health and many other systemic healings. The idea is that oil pulling helps against gingivitis, plaque, and microorganisms that cause bad breath by adhering to the lipid, or fatty membrane of the microorganisms inhabiting the mouth. These vegetable-based oils, known for their anti-microbial agents, then eliminate the unhealthy bacteria when the contents, after pulling, are discarded.

What Studies Show About Oil Pulling

The American Dental Association says that based on the fact that there are insufficient studies and lack of proof of effectiveness of this practice, they cannot recommend oil pulling.They specifically would not recommend this over other oral products that have gone through rigorous testing and have proven benefits.

A 2011 Asian study, which was published in the “Asia Journal of Public Health,” compares seven different oils in a laboratory setting “pulling” the oil with bacteria that causes cavities (S. mutans), a common oral fungus (C. albicans) and healthy oral bacteria (L. casei), all commonly found in the mouth. The study did show that out of all the oils, only coconut oil showed some reduction in the unhealthy bacteria and fungus and while not harming the healthy bacteria.

Should You Try It?

While there is a possibility that there could be some benefit to oil pulling, 20 minutes is a long time to spend on this routine. As an Altamonte Springs dentist, we would recommend spending 5 minutes doing what is tried and true! Give good attention to detail while brushing and flossing, as well as using any and all other recommended oral tools. As far as oil pulling goes, we don’t think any harm will come from this practice if you wanted to give it a try.

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