If you have been keeping up with beauty or natural health blogs lately, you may have heard about a new trend that is sweeping the nation: oil pulling. The technique is catching on like wildfire, with its advocates claiming a host of holistic health benefits. Cosmetic dentistry professional John Goodman, DDS, has noticed a rising interest in oil pulling among his Kansas City patients. You may be wondering - are there any risks, and are its reported benefits the real deal?
What Is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic medicinal practice, sometimes also referred to as “Kavala” or “Gandusha,” which originated in India centuries ago. The technique consists of swishing and working a small amount of natural oil around in your mouth for up to 20 minutes. A popular oil to use is organic coconut oil, but olive oil and sesame oil are also common choices.
The idea with oil pulling is that bacteria and other toxins will stick to and become trapped within the oil, allowing you to remove them more effectively from your teeth and gums. When you are done, you simply spit out the oil (into the trash, not your sink so that you do not clog your pipes!) and the bacteria and debris go with it.
What Are the Perceived Benefits of Oil Pulling?
The purported benefits of oil pulling are manifold, depending on who you ask. According to some oil pulling proponents, the technique can lead to such benefits as:
- Eradication of oral bacteria
- Reduced plaque and tartar buildup
- Elimination of gum disease and periodontitis
- Glossy teeth whitening effects
Others go even further, suggesting that the practice can have additional benefits such as:
- Clearing up acne or other skin problems
- Alleviating allergies and sinus issues
- Helping with headaches and migraines
- Improvement of temporomandibular jaw (TMJ) issues
There has not yet been any significant scientific testing on the benefits of oil pulling, and anecdotal evidence has shown that it doesn’t work equally well for everyone. Many others, including dental professionals, testify to significant results similar to using a good mouthwash or soap.
Are There Any Risks Involved with the Oil Pulling Process?
There is a risk involved with oil pulling, but it does not involve the health of your teeth. Many experts warn that aspirating this now bacteria-laden oil into your lungs has caused cases of pneumonia, and advise that you exercise caution.
Can Oil Pulling Replace My Regularly Scheduled Dental Visits?
The answer to this question is quite simple: oil pulling is absolutely not a substitute for regularly scheduled check-ups with your dentist. This is for the simple reason that oil pulling is more of a preventative measure, and cannot be relied on to fix decay problems that are already there. In other words, if you have the beginnings of a cavity and are in need of a filling or dental bonding, oil pulling is not going to change that. On the contrary, putting off your dental check-ups only gives that dental decay more time to grow and spread. It may help to think of oil pulling as a supplement, like a multivitamin, which can be a great help but is not a viable substitute for your annual check-up with your general practitioner.
Contact Dr. Goodman’s practice to schedule an appointment.