A recent craze in oil pulling, the ancient process of swishing oil in around in ones mouth to improve dental hygiene, now has some dentists interested and weighing in on whether the method is actually effective.
The trend, which comes from the holistic practice of Ayurvedic medicine, originated some 3,000 to 5,000 years ago in India. According to the practice, the oil (coconut oil, or sometimes sesame oil, are often what are used) helps to kill bacteria in a person’s mouth, keeping it healthy and essentially free of germs. Ayurvedic practitioners also often use natural products such and herbal tree leaves to keep their mouths germ-free and healthy as well.
Experienced oil pullers may often pull oil for anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, but it is recommended that people new to the practice start with five minutes or so and gradually work their way up to longer. All of the alleged benefits of this medicinal technique have led many who have never before tried oil pulling to attempt it. Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine claim that the process, in addition to improving dental hygiene, can also help to cure a multitude of issues, including acne, hangovers, and even diabetes.
In light of the spread of the oil pulling craze throughout the western culture, the trend now has dentists weighing in the subject. Patients who are eager to try oil pulling have been asking their dentists how it works and if it is even effective. Claims that it prevents cavities, whitens teeth, and removes toxins have people asking if it is a better alternative to mouthwash for killing bacteria in a person’s mouth. In addition, people are also asking if it is perhaps even a better alternative to whitening strips.
The verdict with many dentists is that, although there is no concrete evidence to back up the effectiveness of oil pulling, it still appears to be a safe and easy practice with no side effects. Swishing a teaspoon to a tablespoon of oil is said to be effective, particularly coconut oil, in the removal of plaque from teeth. However, dentists recommend to start off slowly, working up to more oil day by day, as the sensation can at first be hard to take, and even cause nausea or gagging if too much oil is used initially. They also recommend to brush and floss after the oil pulling process, as the bacteria and viruses pulled from the mouth and teeth will now be in the oil, and the residue may be left over. It is a good idea to get rid of the residue, dentists say – perhaps even in the garbage instead of in the sink. In addition, dentists still recommend getting two dental checkups a year and not using the oil treatment as a dental routine replacement.
As dentists have said as they have weighed in on the oil pulling craze, there seem to be no known side effects. One of the advantages to Ayurvedic medicine cited by practitioners is that it commonly has no side effects or adverse reactions in people, as opposed to many of the medicines or remedies of the Western culture. Ayurvedic medicine focuses on removing toxins from the body to promote good health, and uses all-natural substances in the body as remedies instead of anything which includes chemicals. The principle of Ayurveda is that good health of a person will be reached when a person’s body, mind, and spirit are at one with the universe.
By Laura Clark