For the last few months, a practice known as oil-pulling, is being touted as the key to whiter teeth. If there were such a thing as coconut oil futures, that allowed price speculation, now would be the appropriate time to load up on them. Celebrities, such as Gwyneth Paltrow swear by it, and Divergent star, Shailene Woodley recently revealed that she too practices oil-pulling. The practice appears to be nothing new, and has been practiced in old Ayurveda medicine for centuries. It involves taking a tablespoon of coconut oil or sesame seed oil and swishing around in the mouth for up to 20 minutes. Both Paltrow and Woodley claim that the benefits are nothing short of amazing, as it helps to keep your skin clear and make your teeth whiter, while promoting better oral health.
The idea is that the oil pulls bacteria out of the mouth and the blood to promote better well-being and healthier gums. There may hundreds of sites that also claim that ailments such as migraines, heart diseases, and even AIDs can be relieved with oil-pulling. The practice appears to take some time to get used to.
There may be no harm involved, and claim that oil-pulling may promote whiter teeth and better health, the dental community appears to be sceptical, but they are also sceptical of many other forms of alternative medicines. Dr Peter Doig, president of the Canadian Dental Association indicates that there is very little scientific evidence and results appear to be based on anecdotes. He also denies the claim that the plaque that accumulates on the teeth is soluble in fat and dissolves in the coconut oil. Plaque, he says, is a complex substance, composed of a matrix of biological films and bacterial colonies that are highly resistance to external influences. Despite what the medical community thinks and says many remain undaunted and are giving oil-pulling a try.
Although the jury is out on the benefits of oil-pulling, there are some agreements that there are benefits from the use of coconut oil. Practitioners say that there may be some benefit to the use of coconut oils a mouthwash as it contains the antioxidant vitamin E, and it also has some antifungal properties from the monolaurin, and lauric acid. It is being used in more cosmetics, and because it contains the fat soluble vitamins, K, D, E and A. It may in fact promote better skin and provide protection from ultra violet rays. There is as some evidence that it promotes lower cholesterol levels, but more research is needed according to Dr. Yeowart, a public health physician.
Without scientific studies it may be difficult to draw conclusions, but the experts do agree that there is no harm in trying. Additionally, without the science it may be difficult to determine individual responses, which can and do vary. Some people report great results, while other see very little responses.
Individuals who may be curious about the practice may be willing to try, but the medical and dental community continues to advise that although there are claims that oil-pulling may be the key to whiter teeth, it cannot or should not replace good oral hygiene habits of regular brushing and flossing.
By Dale Davidson