What’s the Deal with Oil Pulling?

By January 27, 2016No Comments


Oil Pulling has come into the limelight as a natural
and holistic approach to dentistry, but is this entirely true?

    In 2016, the trend of oil pulling seems to have erupted. This particular topic has been an item of discussion among many dental professionals. What are they saying? Dr. Jessica Emery, DMD states, “For the record, a regular oil-pulling routine should not replace routine dental visits and traditional at-home oral care. Oil pulling does not reverse the effects of tooth decay, and it’s important that patients are made fully aware of that. That being said, I do believe that it is a great supplemental therapy. The phrase “oil pulling” comes from the process of the oil being “worked” in the mouth by pulling, pushing, and sucking it through the teeth. This type of oral therapy isn’t new at all; it has its origins in Ayurvedic medicine dating back 3,000 years.” In this article Dr. Emery goes on to further explain the processes of oil pulling. She explains more in depth that coconut oil does not reverse cavities, it can only supplement your daily dental routine. (If you choose to include it in your daily routine)

The American Dental Association (ADA) says otherwise. “Several Listerine antiseptic mouth rinses carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance because they have been shown, through laboratory and clinical studies, to help reduce plaque and gingivitis. Listerine contains four essential oils (thymol, eucalyptol, methyl salicylate and menthol) as its antiplaque and anti-gingivitis active ingredient combination. Unlike the oils used in oil pulling, these essential oils are present in small amounts in an aqueous solution that is intended to be swished for 30 seconds, twice a day.” This particular article goes on to state that there isn’t a sufficient amount of research on oil pulling, therefore it cannot be accurately recommended for your use. “The ADA Seal on over-the-counter- oral care products (mouthwash) is your assurance that those products have been evaluated by an independent group of experts, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, and that the product does what it claims to do.” The ADA insures that the products they endorse have been individually evaluated by their team of experts, and researched fully.

Mark Wolff, professor and chair at the New York University College of Dentistry, has other thoughts on this process. “I am not sure there is any harm, but I have never seen it have any positive effect on my patients who have been using oil pulling or in clinical research that has been published.” Once again there shows to be little research on the benefits of oil pulling, but can there be negative effects? Dr. Amala Guha, assistant professor of immunology and medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center and the founding president of The International Society for Ayurveda and Health, says there can be negative effects. Dry mouth, excessive thirst, muscular stiffness, exhaustion and loss of sensation or taste in the mouth are a few negative side effects that can occur. Would it be worth the negative effects to try oil pulling? The answer is unclear.

What is the final verdict of the relevancy of oil pulling? If you are looking for a natural way to boost your oral health, there are many proven and ADA approved options for you. Oil pulling can be done safely but if you are looking for immediate oral health results, consulting your dental professional would be recommended as your best option.



Sources: ADA, American Dental Association.  ADA.org.

Dr. Jessica Emery, DMD.  Cosmetic Dentist at Sugar Fix, a Dental Loft,  Chicago IL.

Mark Wolff, Professor and Chair at New York University College of Dentistry

Dr. Amala Guha, Professor of Immunology and Medicine at University of Connecticut

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