Update on Oil Pulling
Here we are a few years after oil pulling first became popular. The craze has definitely subsided quite a bit but we still field some questions from time to time. In case you missed the initial trend: oil pulling involves swishing with coconut, olive, sesame, or sunflower oil for 20 minutes before spitting out. The belief is that it can help remove toxins from your mouth and body. Here is our take as dental professionals.
We still haven’t seen any long term studies proving the benefits of oil pulling are backed by scientific evidence. Does that mean it can’t be proven effective in the future? No. But we can’t recommend anything for your oral health when we are unsure of its short and long term effects.
There is one study the ADA (American Dental Association) referenced that compares the benefits of oil pulling to chlorhexidine rinse (a prescription strength anti-bacterial mouth rinse). This particular study found oil pulling more effectively reduced the presence of streptococcus mutans in the mouth. However, this did not investigate whether or not the reduction produced a clinical benefit to the person.
Even if some scientific data is shown that oil pulling can help make the oral cavity healthier, it is unlikely I would recommend its use over traditional home care options. Oil pulling calls for swishing for up to 20 minutes at a time. I believe you are better suited to spend those 20 minutes using a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and a fluoride mouth rinse. You could use all of these tools using less time and have a more predictable and proven outcome.
We will continue to follow the studies that become available involving oil pulling and their benefits. But until proven otherwise, I would recommend sticking with traditional methods.