Little evidence to support benefits of oil pulling

If you follow health or celebrity news you’ve likely heard the buzz on the latest natural health craze to hit the internet: Oil Pulling.

As the name suggests, the practice involves using about a tablespoon of oil – typically sesame or coconut, preferably organic – as a mouthwash. The oil is swished and “pulled” through the mouth for upwards of 20 minutes per session before being spit out into the trash. This ancient Hindu Ayurvedic medicine remedy is said to have a laundry list of health benefits, among which are common dental health concerns: preventing tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath as well as whitening teeth.

While there are numerous articles with claims and personal stories supporting the practice of oil pulling, there is little scientific evidence to support these assertions. There is, however, significant evidence that a preventive oral care routine including brushing teeth for about two minutes twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily and visiting a dentist regularly can prevent dental disease.

There is likely little harm in trying oil pulling, other than possible discomfort from the lengthy swishing process. If you do decide to try this or any other alternative medicine or natural remedy, we encourage you to consider it a complement to a proven preventive dental care routine. You may also want to check with your physician or dentist to make sure that alternative practices will not interfere with any medications or affect other problems that you may have.

8 thoughts on “Little evidence to support benefits of oil pulling

  1. Thanks for the article, many people asked me whether it’s dangerous to try it… I’ll address them here!

    Do you think that a research might confirm the usefulness of oil pulling in the near future?

  2. I wrote about this process about a month or so ago, and I agree — the benefits are suspect at best. Other dentists have had patients that have resorted solely to oil pulling for their oral hygiene and have encountered an increase in tooth decay, gingivitis, and other oral health problems. It is not worth chasing after a ‘fad’ health craze because a celebrity or other prominent public figure does it. Traditional brushing, flossing, and using of mouth rinse are the best ways to ensure your mouth stays healthy, along with regular dental visits.

  3. I have had many patients come in and ask about oil pulling. I tell them I do not recommend it, but if your going to do it please do not tell us. We will know if they do when they come back in for their check up.

  4. I think this is another fad and I do not promote this either in my dentist office. Patients say they have read that it improves your health. I can’t say yes or no on this, but I can say I don’t recommend it to my patients.

  5. Oh No! This is not recommend at all by a dentist and should not be done. I think it’s also a fad and as long as we do not push this issue I think it will go away. Most people can not use a mouthwash for 5 minutes let alone 20 minutes with this oil pulling.

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