Oil pulling is a very old technique that originated from India. To use this technique properly you need to hold oil in your mouth, and swirl it around like a mouthwash for about 20 minutes.
Coconut oil is advocated as one of the most healthy oils available, and there is a long list of uses for coconut oil, including skin moisturiser and hair conditioner!
Personally, I use coconut oil for all my cooking as I do believe it is a superior oil.
Back to Oil Pulling, there are a lot of people who swear by this technique and the oral health benefits include:
- Healthier Gums
- Fresher Breath
- Less Bleeding
- Stronger Teeth
- Whiter Teeth
Plus a whole bunch of other related benefits!
This sounds great, right? Wouldn’t everyone want this?
The reason that your dentist or hygienist does not recommend oil pulling, is that there is just not enough scientific evidence to recommend it.
It is very likely that there are a lot of benefits to this technique, but to be sure, someone needs to do a long and boring experiment to prove it, and someone else will need to fund this!
Another thing to bear in mind is that you can get all these benefits by cleaning your teeth with a good electric toothbrush and floss, and this will take you less than 20 minutes!
How Does Oil Pulling Work?
So, no one knows for sure, but here is a good theory: swirling oil at body temperature, for 20 minutes, will turn it into something very similar to soap.
Swirling this soap like material in between your teeth will clean the gum margin all the way around your teeth, and if you are doing this for 20-30 minutes, you will effectively get rid of the bacteria at the gum line and all the way around your teeth!
To do this with a toothbrush, you will need to be a little more thorough, because toothbrushes only clean the inside and outside gum lines, they cannot reach the gum in between the teeth.
To get to the gum between your teeth, you will need to use something like dental floss or an interdental brush (for example, a TePe brush). For very tight contacts between your teeth, floss will be better, and for slightly larger spaces an interdental brush will be better.
As for the whitening, again, this is achieved by cleaning the surface of your teeth, and getting rid of surface stain like tea and coffee.
You can get the same cleaning with a professional hygiene session every 6 months or so. If your dentist or hygienist uses an air polisher, they will be able to remove staining from between teeth, resulting in a much whiter and healthier looking smile.
So all in all, oil pulling with coconut oils probably has some benefits, but if you have ever tried swirling anything in your mouth for 20-30 minutes takes a lot of commitment! Often its a lot quicker and easier to brush well, and floss – you can do all of this in less than 5 minutes.
There is no evidence that oil pulling is any better than normal techniques, but its not going to do any harm.
Personally, I advise my patients that if they want to use this technique, to use it as well as normal brushing, but not on its own.