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  • Writer's pictureHana Rashid D.D.S.

Oil Pulling Myths And Facts

The practice of oil pulling originates from Ayurvedic medicine by using sesame oil as a detoxification. In more recent years, coconut oil has emerged as Western medicine’s oil of choice and the recommended course of action is to swish for 20 minutes daily, preferably in the morning. There are now self-reported claims of whitening teeth, helping with TMJ disease, removing bad breath and infection associated with gum disease and abscesses. Furthermore, it is said to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, arthritis and other chronic illnesses. Unfortunately, very minimal published research confirms those findings.  In regards to oral health, the oil is seen as creating a layer on the tooth surface that prevents plaque from sticking onto the surface, but this assumption is risky for those who have active gum disease and cavities. Treating gum disease or active infections or decay by oil pulling alone, will not reverse the damage already done by Streptococcus mutans, the main bacteria seen in tooth decay or the main periodontal disease-causing bacteria (A. actinomycetemcomitans, P. gingivalis, P. intermedia, B. forsythus, C. rectus, E. nodatum, P. micros, S. intermedius and Treponema).

Just as we use many types of oils for smooth and shiny hair and skin, oil pulling may as well work for anyone suffering from dry mouth or burning mouth, by attempting to increase saliva production in the mouth in order to help buffer the tissues and coat the teeth. The harm caused by oil pulling has no documented adverse effects, but care must be taken not to swallow the oil.

The research is minimal and the effects vary among people, so my advice for anyone who is already oil pulling or considering it is to call us so we can speak to you about your options depending on your oral health needs. What we do know based on published research, however, is that most diseases start with poor dental health and are preventable. This is known as the Oral-Systemic Connection.

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