So, I’ll admit it when I first heard of oil pulling I thought it was some kind of trend someone randomly invented to capitalize on the health conscious/wellness movement. I mean, how is swishing oil around in your mouth going to clean your teeth? Not to mention the fact that experts claim that in order for it to be effective, you have to do it for 10-20 minutes!
To back up a sec, what is oil pulling exactly? It’s the ayurvedic medicine practice of moving around a plant-based oil in your mouth for a long period of time with the goal of removing toxins and bad bacteria so they don’t enter the body. Regarding your mouth’s actual benefit, some people claim it helps whiten teeth, removes plaque, keeps your breath fresh, prevents gingivitis and strengthens gums. Apparently, the prolonged time is necessary to take all the bad stuff out, before you spit it out.
Are there any side effects? Used regularly (and in combination with brushing) there are no side effects but there are a few cautions: there’s a very serious condition called lipoid pneumonia, which can happen if one chokes on the oil and it gets into the lungs. I also read some claims of stomach upset (ex: diarrhea), which, I mean, is natural if you drink a good amount of oil. Some people are allergic to some of the oils (ex: coconut), so end up having an allergic reaction; therefore, it’s important to be smart about what oil you select to do this with if you’re going to try it.
Does it work? The jury is out on this. I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit reading research that validates the claims of oil pulling as well as reading the opposing arguments of doctors who are against it. Here’s what I found worth noting:
One study I found followed about 60 male and females between the ages of 16-18 as they used coconut oil pulling. The study concluded that it was an “an effective method in reducing plaque formation and plaque induced gingivitis.” You can read the full study here.
On the opposite end, the American Dental Association does not recommend oil pulling as a dental hygiene practice. They stay on their website that “there are no reliable scientific studies to show that oil pulling reduces cavities, whitens teeth or improves oral health and well-being.” However, these people are also recommending we brush with fluoride toothpaste – fluoride, by the way is a neurotoxin so stay away!
I will say, it’s safer than traditional mouthwashes that are loaded with chemicals. I like to carry around portable pouches in my purse if ever I’m on the go and don’t feel like my breath is at its optimum freshness. The brand I use is Blvnco. While I can’t seem to get past 5 minus of swishing, I will say that my mouth does feel clean after doing it for the short time that I do. It will definitely not be a replacement for brushing, but I will continue to use it occasionally to improve my oral health when I feel I need it.