Oil Pulling picture of a toothbrush and coconut oil

The Truth About Oil Pulling

Patients have so much access to information these days, and everyone is looking for a quick fix or the newest self help trend to improve themselves. This is especially true with home care treatment, like tooth whitening. We’ve heard all of the fads- brushing with peroxide or baking soda, the latest gimmick charcoal, but the professionals at KidZdent are still getting asked about a classic favorite- oil pulling.

Truth be told, the best ways to accomplish optimal oral health are right under our nose. The most important step is simply sticking to the basics of brushing and flossing twice daily or after every meal, and maintaining a strict routine of six month preventative care appointments with your dental hygienist and dentist. By following this simple advice, every patient can achieve their most desired and healthiest smile. However, for those who have a need to try it all, we are here to set the record straight:  What’s the deal with oil pulling?

First off, what is oil pulling exactly?

Oil pulling, as explained by the American Dental Association (ADA), involves swishing a tablespoon of edible oil (coconut, olive, sesame or the like) throughout the mouth for usually one to five minutes, but for up to as long as 20 minutes depending on the case. The method has supposedly been practiced for centuries in southern Asia and India. And although oil pulling is one method of whitening teeth and enhancing one’s mouth health, it’s not necessarily the best option.

Does Oil Pulling Really Work?

There have been many studies completed both to prove and disprove the theory and science behind oil pulling- using both coconut oil and sesame oil. Although in our experience, oil pulling can show some reduction in plaque and other bacteria that may lead to tooth decay, there is not enough evidence to really endorse its full effectiveness.

Why to Avoid Oil Pulling

Studies show that all too often, the adverse effects of oil pulling outweigh the advantages. There can be many negative side effects of oil pulling if not done correctly. The benefits of oil pulling seem basic enough, but if the technique is not performed properly, oil pulling can cause loss of sensation and taste, chronic dry mouth, excessive thirst, muscular stiffness and even exhaustion. The ADA ultimately does not recommend oil pulling as a credible therapy or recognize it as beneficial to one’s oral health due to the fact that there has been so little research to provide this scientific data. Hence, this is why most oil-pulling professionals or enthusiasts typically reside outside of the U.S.

And although everyone desires a brighter, whiter smile, oil pulling is still not the preferred alternative to the more traditional oral hygiene regimens, mouthwashes or professional bleaching treatments. We do not want our patients to hinder their oral health long-term just because they’ve been seeing so much positive marketing around the concept of oil pulling.

Proper Oral Care Routine

When searching for an alternative to whiten your teeth, unfortunately, there’s no magic pill, medicine or dietary gimmick designed to make your teeth that perfect shade of white- despite all of the products that may help. The only true way to ensure healthy gums and white teeth, proven to work over time and time again, is by developing and maintaining a consistent and proper oral care routine.

With regular KidZdent dentist visits and brushing and flossing daily, patients will be able to lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

These following steps can be taken at home to help ensure the healthiest smile possible.

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Use a fluoride-based toothpaste and/or mouthwash
  • Make sure your kids take the recommended fluoride supplements or drink fluoridated water
  • Most importantly, floss every day and brush in the morning and evening

And remember, each patient only gets one set of permanent teeth, so taking care of them is paramount!

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