Some call it oil pulling, while others refer to it as oil swishing. What was once a folk remedy, practiced in ancient India is suddenly new again. Based upon traditional Ayurvedic medicine practiced some 3000 to 5000 years ago, oil swishing has become the new Internet sensation. Oil pulling has been hyped as a preventive cure for cavities and gum disease as well as an alternative method of teeth whitening. Whatever you want to call it, this ancient Indian practice has received more than its fair share of attention. Even Hollywood actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow have admitted to trying this, as well as Shailene Woodley, star of the film Divergent, who explained this ancient method in an interview in a popular beauty blog Into the Gloss.
Behind the Hype of Oil Pulling
Current advocates of holistic medicine are quick to promote this natural remedy for a list of ailments including migraines, allergies and sinus pressure, and that’s just the beginning. We know there is an association between oral health and chronic disease but some advocates have gone so far as to claim oil pulling can prevent cancer and heart disease. If you were to do an Internet search on “oil pulling” you would find over 2 million results and growing. Even a New York natural living blogger, Francheska Medina, posted a Youtube video in December of her oil pulling, and it received over 100,000 subscribers.
Basically, what you’ll learn is that you need to swish with coconut, sesame or sunflower oil each day. You’ll also learn that in order for the process to be effective, you should aim to swish it for 10 to 20 minutes until the oil turns milky white and thin. By the way, if you do decide to try this, do not spit it out into the sink, as it will clog your drains. But before jumping on the bandwagon let’s look at what science is telling us.
In reality there have only been a handful of scientific studies about oil pulling. Not one of them suggests that swishing with oil can reverse gum disease, keep teeth clean or improve oral health. The studies suggest that oil pulling may be used in addition to everyday brushing and flossing, and NOT as a replacement for your daily oral hygiene regimen. They also revealed that oil pulling might be effective in killing some forms of mouth bacteria, even maybe some of the bacteria that cause bad breath and gingivitis. But in no way should it be used as treatment for gum disease or any other oral health issues. So if you’re swishing to prevent cancer or heart disease by “pulling” toxins or bacteria from your system, the only thing that the oil will leave is a bad taste in your mouth.
Even a recent Washington Post article cited D.C.-based periodontist, Dr. Sally J. Cram, who also happens to be a consumer advisor for the ADA, saying “while the fragrance of certain oils may help with bad breath, there’s nothing in those oils that is anti-bacterial.” And while at-home remedies have their place, it’s always in your best interest to see a dentist to identify and treat the root cause of your bad breath or bleeding gums. The danger comes when it masks potentially serious issues that only get worse when treatment from a qualified and highly trained health professional is delayed.
At Dr. Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD, we will educate you on the latest advancements in preventive dental care. With decades of experience in restorative, family, implant and sedation dentistry, we’re committed to excellence in oral health. All of our treatment is conducted in a friendly and relaxed stress and judgment-free environment, and our highly qualified and compassionate staff will take the necessary time to make sure you are comfortable. For high-quality, exceptional dental care, call 248-356-8790 and experience the difference by scheduling your next dental appointment with us soon.
Until Next Time,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD
Your Southfield Family Dentist
Tel: (248) 356-8790