Recently, many people have been talking about the ancient Ayurvedic technique of oil pulling. It has been increasing in popularity and many claim it to be a dental cure all, capable of fighting cavity causing bacteria, strengthening enamel, and even reversing gum recession and tooth decay. But, despite the anecdotal evidence, many people still question whether oil pulling really works.
The Research on Oil Pulling
Research conducted by Asokan S in India compared the effects of oil pulling to swishing with a standard chlorhexidine mouthwash. Research demonstrated that both products proved to be equally effective in fighting halitosis. Both proved to be effective in reducing plaque, although chlorhexidine mouthwash produced significant results in just 24 hours, whereas oil pulling took one week to show changes. To sum it up, oil pulling has shown effective in fighting plaque, reducing bacteria, and fighting halitosis. However, it is no more effective than a standard mouthwash.
Side Effects of Oil Pulling
There is a disease known as lipoid pneumonia, which affects the lungs and is caused by the inhalation of small amounts of oil. Given oil pulling requires that oil be swished around in the mouth for extended periods of time, it is possible to increase your risk of developing this disease by accidentally inhaling the oil as you swish. Given accidental inhalation could occur, particularly if you are oil pulling daily, this is a major risk to consider when determining if oil pulling is right for you.
The Benefits of Oil Pulling
Many standard mouthwash formulas are harsh and abrasive. For people with sensitive mouths, swishing with oil may be a superior option, as it is more gentle on the mouth and gums. Also, while the evidence is anecdotal, many have claimed to experience substantial teeth whitening effects when oil pulling with coconut oil.
How to Oil Pull
To begin, pick an unrefined sesame oil or coconut oil. Darker colored oils like olive oil have the potential to stain your teeth. Using one tablespoon of oil, swish it around in your mouth for 20 minutes a day. Suck the oil through your teeth as you swish, to ensure it gets into all of the crevices in your mouth. Spit the oil in the trashcan rather than the sink to avoid clogging. Never swallow the oil, as it has acquired bacteria from your mouth that you do not want to ingest.
While there are some benefits of oil pulling, the risks are also important to consider when determining whether it is right for you. Given a typical chlorhexidine mouthwash is proven just as effective, there is no need to switch to oil pulling unless the taste or abrasiveness of your current mouthwash is undesirable.