Oil pulling is going viral for whitening teeth and more. Do dentists think it’s worth trying?

Oil pulling, an ancient Ayurvedic practice of swishing oil into the mouth and then spitting it out, has attracted a lot of attention on social media. The technology is thought to help clean the mouth and promote dental hygiene.

On TikTok, there are hundreds of videos of people claiming the practice can do more: whiten teeth, reverse cavities, fight gum disease and treat a variety of oral health conditions.

The practice has evolved from taking a spoonful of coconut or sesame oil to using expensive disposable oil packets that come in a variety of fancy flavors.

How does oil pulling work?

How is oil pulling done?

“Tanker testing has been around for thousands of years as a way to improve oral hygiene,” Dr. Matt Messina, director of the Ohio State University Upper Arlington Dental Clinic, told TODAY.com.

This traditional therapy is rooted in the Ayurvedic system of medicine and is widely practiced in India and South Asia.

“It's a tradition that's being adopted now because it's trendy… I think it became popular in the past few years because I wanted to know how to find something 'natural' to make my mouth healthier. ,” Dr. Suhail Mohiuddin, a Chicago dentist and founder of Dentologie, told TODAY.com.

Oil pulling starts by taking a tablespoon of cooking oil and putting it in your mouth. Dr. Mark Wolfe, dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry, told TODAY.com that coconut oil is commonly used for oil pulling. Experts note that sesame, olive and sunflower oils can also be used, as long as they are edible.

Next, swish the oil around vigorously in your mouth, like mouthwash, experts say. “The idea is that you chew the oil and 'pull' it, pulling it between the teeth and gums by creating its own suction,” Messina says.

After swirling the oil around for a while (oil pulling techniques vary, but the practice can last anywhere from two to 20 minutes), you'll spit the oil out, Messina says.

Oil pulling is thought to help clean teeth and reduce bacteria in the mouth, which can cause plaque buildup and cavities. “Gingivitis or gum disease is basically inflammation of the gums caused by plaque, which is a biofilm,” adds Mohiedin.

Benefits of oil pulling

Experts note that although people have been practicing oil pulling for centuries to promote oral health, research is limited and mixed at best.

“It was circulated on social media as a way to reduce cavities, bad breath, gum disease (gingivitis) and a host of untested health products,” Wolf said. Some influencers tout the systemic benefits of oil pulling, including improving skin health and “detoxifying” the body.

Overall, Wolf said, there are not yet large-scale clinical studies that are robust enough to demonstrate these benefits.

“There are no reliable scientific studies that show oil pulling reduces cavities, whitens teeth, or improves oral health,” the American Dental Association says.

Mohiuddin says one cause of cavities is an oral pH that is too acidic (below 5.5), which can lead to enamel demineralization or erosion. “There is no data to suggest that oil pulling changes the pH of the mouth,” he adds.

A 2022 meta-analysis investigating the effects of oil pulling on oral health found that oil pulling may have potential benefits in reducing salivary bacterial colony counts but had no significant effect on reducing plaque or gingivitis.

As for removing toxins from the body, there's no evidence that oil pulling can do that, and TODAY.com previously reported that the body can detoxify itself with the help of the liver, kidneys, lungs, and digestive system.

“Real hard science is not very strong,” Woolf said.

Messina said that while many of the purported benefits of oil pulling are “somewhat questionable,” the practice may still have a place in dental hygiene.

“Oil pulling effectively removes gum tissue and loose debris around the teeth,” says Messina. “Anything we can do to remove food particles, plaque or bacteria from our teeth is certainly beneficial,” adds Messina.

However, experts say other methods, such as toothbrushing and flossing, work better. Messina points out that our oral hygiene tools and abilities have changed dramatically over the past 100 years. Compared to newer methods, oil pulling does little to reduce debris and bacteria in your mouth.

Once biofilm or plaque forms, Mohiuddin says, oil pulling “doesn't have any or no greater impact than flushing with water.” “The only way to properly remove plaque is to use mechanical interference, such as brushing or flossing,” adds Mohiuddin.

“Now we even have water flossers and irrigators that can clean the area between the teeth and below the gum line with a power pull or a power rinse — that’s just one example of how we’re getting better,” Messina noted. .

“Oil pulling is a time-honored method that has been replaced by some better methods of cleaning teeth,” Messina says. That’s why it’s important to use oil pulling as a supplement to your dental hygiene routine in addition to brushing and flossing, not as a replacement for these methods.

Oil pulling side effects

“There's nothing dangerous about oil pulling. There's nothing wrong with it, nothing bad about it — there's no scientific evidence that it's good or bad,” Messina said.

Compared with other oral hygiene tips popular on social media, such as brushing with charcoal (which Messina says is abrasive and harmful to enamel), oil pulling is “pretty benign,” he adds.

Experts say cooking oil used when doing oil pulling is safe to put in the mouth and swallow, although the oil will eventually be spit out. “We're not talking about engine oil (or) any petroleum-based oil. That's not safe,” Wolfe said.

Swallowing too much of these cooking oils may cause an upset stomach or diarrhea, Wolf says. Otherwise, oil pulling is generally pretty safe.

“The only time I think oil pulling might be considered dangerous is if someone has an infection or periodontal disease and you're using oil pulling instead of a known beneficial treatment,” Messina says.

Do I need to brush my teeth after oil pulling?

Experts point out that brushing your teeth after oil pulling is generally recommended.

“Depending on the oil you use, you might be able to brush with more toothpaste for longer if your mouth tastes like salad,” Messina says.

How often do you pump oil?

Experts note that most advice on oil pulling recommends practicing once or twice a day. “If you do oil pulling as an additional treatment, that's fine,” Messina says.

Avoid swallowing oil and spit it in the trash rather than the sink when you're done, as oil can clog pipes, TODAY.com previously reported.

Do dentists recommend oil pulling?

Due to a lack of scientific evidence, the American Dental Association does not recommend oil pulling as a dental hygiene practice.

“I personally wouldn't recommend it because I can't find the science to support it,” Wolfe said.

Messina added: “Dentists won't recommend it because there's no scientific evidence that it's beneficial, but we certainly won't discourage it unless people are willing to do it instead of doing something beneficial.”

Mohideen agreed that while most dentists wouldn't recommend oil pulling, “as long as you're brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing or water flossing, I don't think they care.”

The ADA and dentists recommend brushing twice a day for at least two minutes with fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day. It's also important to avoid smoking, visit your dentist annually, and get routine cleanings.

As with any claims about any remedy on social media, if you have questions or want to change your dental hygiene habits, try to find reliable sources and talk to your dentist.

“Everyone's oral health needs are different … and your dentist can provide recommendations based on your individual situation,” Messina said.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *