Is Oil Pulling Bad for My Teeth?

Anyone with internet access, and especially those with a friend who overshares on social media, can attest to all the recent fads and so-called “life hacks” being thrown around like they’re going out of style. And the truth is, most of these trends are just that–passing whimsies that a bunch of people try until they get tired of it or they realize it’s not really delivering the results they were guaranteed. For example, did you yield to the charcoal toothpaste fad? That’s where people brush with activated charcoal to supposedly whiten their teeth. Turns out, the American Dental Association (ADA) has stated that charcoal is not proven to be safe or even effective because it’s too abrasive and does more harm to your teeth than good!

So Is Oil Pulling Just Like Activated Charcoal?

But what about oil pulling? That’s just another dental fad too, right? Actually, oil pulling has been around a lot longer than you would think. Let’s chat about the history of oil pulling, what it can and cannot do for your smile, and answer the question: Is oil pulling bad for my teeth?

Closeup of a stream of yellow olive oil being poured into a clear bowl oil next to a cluster of green olives

Recent Fad or Ancient Tradition?

Although you may have only recently seen oil pulling mentioned on social media, it’s been around for almost 3,000 years! It’s an ancient Ayurvedic folk remedy believed to pull toxins from the mouth and body by swishing sesame, olive, sunflower, or coconut oil around in your mouth for an extended period of time. For anyone asking, “Ayu-what-dic?”, it’s a combination of the Sanskrit words for life (ayur) and science/knowledge (veda). Oil pulling originated in India and is one of the world’s oldest practices of medicine on record. Today, oil pulling advocates recommend that you do it for 15 to 20 minutes, preferably with coconut oil, as this particular oil is thought to contain many beneficial vitamins.

So Does Being Ancient Mean That Oil Pulling Is Good?

A white toothbrush with orange bristles and toothpaste on it against a green circle in a larger blue circle

If you’re an oil pulling fanatic, we have good and bad news for you. There’s not much reliable scientific evidence that oil pulling significantly rids your body or mouth of toxins and bacteria, or will even improve your overall or oral health. Because it isn’t a proven method of reducing cavities or whitening teeth, the ADA does not recommend it as a dental hygiene practice. Therefore, although oil pulling may freshen your breath temporarily, it should never replace brushing twice daily for two minutes each time, flossing every day, and visiting Toothology Dental twice a year for professional cleanings and checkups! However, some dentists do believe it is an OK substitute for mouthwash, but be sure to not swallow it after swishing.

Oil Pulling As a Supplement, Never a Replacement

Some may think that if they swish oil every day–BOOM–their dental health will be magically perfect, but they are mistaken, especially if they already have periodontal disease. Swishing oil cannot penetrate deep below the gumline to sufficiently combat gum inflammation and infection. Protect the integrity of your oral health by using oil pulling only in conjunction with daily brushing and flossing and biannual dental visits. To schedule your next appointment at our Scottsdale dental practice, contact us today!

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