You may have first heard of oil pulling via Facebook or Pinterest. Indeed, the whole Internet is buzzing about the latest natural health craze. But exactly what is oil pulling, how safe is it and does it actually work?
What is oil pulling?
Originating in India, oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing oil in the mouth for oral and overall health benefits. The traditional folk remedy is said to cure a wide range of ailments, including headaches, migraines, diabetes and asthma. However, its primary use has been to reduce oral bacteria, prevent tooth decay, strengthen the jaw and whiten teeth.
To clean the mouth, you’re supposed to swish oil (like sesame or coconut) in your mouth anywhere from 1 to 20 minutes.
Does oil pulling work?
As with many folk remedies, there is a lack of evidence to support that oil pulling has any oral health benefits. Many of the studies that do exist on oil pulling have clear problems, including a small sample size or lack of blinding.
According to the American Dental Association, “scientific studies have not provided the necessary clinical evidence to demonstrate that oil pulling reduces the incidence of dental caries, whitens teeth or improves oral health and well-being.”
In addition, there are potential negative side effects of oil pulling, including upset stomach, diarrhea, aspiration of the oil and even some cases of lipoid pneumonia.
Should you try oil pulling?
Although oil pulling may seem like an interesting natural remedy to try, we recommend sticking to the things that are proven to work: brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing and visiting your dentist.
If you absolutely must swish, use a mouthwash that carries that ADA Seal of Acceptance. Products with this seal have been shown, through laboratory and clinical studies, to help reduce plaque and gingivitis.