Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic oral health technique that has gained modern popularity. The practice entails swishing oil in the mouth to draw out toxins for reportedly healthier teeth and gums. Examining the evidence helps discern its merits.
How Oil Pulling Works
A spoonful of vegetable oil like coconut, sesame, or sunflower is swished and pulled between teeth for 10-20 minutes, then spit out. The oil supposedly acts as a magnet for bacteria, dislodging plaque and detoxifying the mouth.
Traditional techniques advocate raw organic oils on an empty stomach. Rinsing the mouth afterward is recommended. Oil pulling should not replace regular oral care but serves as a supplemental practice.
Potential Oral Health Benefits
Proponents claim benefits like whiter teeth, reduced plaque and gingivitis, fresher breath, and stronger gums and enamel from routine oil pulling.
A few studies have found modest plaque and gingivitis reductions, perhaps due to increased salivation and mechanical cleansing from swishing. More research is still needed on suggested health effects.
Considerations for Use
Oil pulling poses little risk for most and may benefit oral hygiene if added to daily flossing and brushing. However, take care not to substitute it for proven methods. Always thoroughly rinse the sink afterward to avoid clogged drains.
Those with swallowing disorders should avoid oil pulling due to aspiration risk. Oils high in polyunsaturated fat become rancid quicker than saturated varieties like coconut oil, which is likely the most effective.
Ask Your Dentist
Discuss oil pulling with your dentist to see if they recommend incorporating it into your routine. They can advise you on best practices and suitable oils based on your oral health status. Introduce it slowly and notify your dentist if any issues arise.
Oil pulling may provide mild cleansing and detoxifying effects when appropriately used alongside regular oral hygiene. However, more research on potential benefits is warranted before dental health claims can be substantiated. For now, view oil pulling as a supplementary practice with low risk for most people.
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