Kingsport Dentist Blog

So, What About Oil Pulling?

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Over the past year, we have had several patients ask about oil pulling. The most common is coconut oil, although just about any type of oil has been tried/used. So, what is it exactly?

“The practice of oil pulling involves placing a tablespoon of an edible oil (e.g., sesame, olive, sunflower, coconut) inside the mouth, and swishing or “pulling” the oil through the teeth and oral cavity for anywhere from 1-5 minutes to up to 20 minutes or longer.” - American Dental Association

This practice has been heralded to whiten your teeth, reduce bacteria, strengthen your gums and jaw, improve your skin, clear your sinuses, prevent bad breath, and even protect against heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Swishing oil isn’t a recent revelation. In fact, it has been traced back over 3,0000 years to ancient Indian medicinal therapy.

If you Google “coconut oil” you will get bombarded with uses and remedies. However, when it comes to your oral health, I have to ask myself, “what are the facts?”

Until further studies surface, I have to categorize oil pulling into the alternative medicine category, analogous to acupuncture. Research is not conclusive on acupuncture, but it still provides benefits to many people. Me included. During college, I suffered from a debilitating shoulder injury. I was searching for any relief from the pain. The problem with practices such as acupuncture and oil pulling is that there is no concrete, research-based evidence that can support its claims.

When patients come in saying “Doc, I have been oil pulling for 20 minutes a day and I can totally feel a difference in my teeth and gums!”. Great! I’m not here to tell you that’s dumb and there is no evidence behind it. The only adverse side effects are if the oil is swallowed, which can cause upset stomach and diarrhea. I’m just here to say that it shouldn’t be replaced by the tried and true dental care methods – brushing, flossing, and limited consumption of sugar and acidic beverages.

Until further studies show tangible evidence for oil pulling, please use at your own discretion.

At Bateman Dentistry, we offer treatments and remedies that are PROVEN by clinical studies. Whether it’s gingivitis (gum inflammation), periodontal disease (bone loss), autoimmune disorders (sjogren’s disease, lichen planus, apthous ulcers), or just someone that wants to whiten their teeth (bleaching with carbamide peroxide), we have solutions. Schedule your appointment today.

Thanks for reading, I will be back soon!


Jake Batmen, DDS

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