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What Is Oil Pulling & Would Your Dentist Recommend It?

Posted on March 26, 2014 | in Dental Care | by

Is Oil Pulling OK With Your DentistIt’s all the rave these days, oil pulling for oral health. Chug some coconut or sesame oil and swish, gargle, swoosh…then spit. Now watch years of tooth decaying plaque and yellowing teeth stains wash away!

But watch out – don’t spit that washed up oil down the drain, that’s no good for the pipes or plumbing. Your house’s pipes and plumbing that is. Rather, when you’re finished sloshing that silky slurry of sesame oil simply discharge the remnants into the trash or toilet.

Wait, maybe oil pulling is actually good for the pipes in our houses, if the toilet water doesn’t dilute the oil, why would we not wash it down the sink drain – is it simply a question of volume?

A questions for the ages, for sure. After all, oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice – an alternative system of medicine native to India – that has reportedly been around for thousands of years.

What Is Oil Pulling?


According to this 2009 study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), oil pulling has been used extensively as a traditional Indian folk remedy for many years for strengthening teeth, gums, and the jaw and to prevent decay, oral malodor, bleeding gums, dryness of the throat, and cracked lips.

And believe it or not…, the oil pulling therapy the NCBI studied did show a reduction in the plaque index, modified gingival scores, and total colony count of aerobic microorganisms in the plaque of adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis.

So, to demystify and decipher that dental-centric language – it does seem to provide some oral health benefit.

Does Your Dentist Recommend Oil Pulling For A Healthy Smile?


Our guess, because we’re not dentists and we try not to play them on the internet, is yes. But maybe not for the exact reasons you think. Dentists may recommend oil pulling as a practice to reduce tooth decay and plaque, but the underlying reason for this is our awareness of our own oral health.

If oil pulling makes us pay more attention to the health of our teeth and gums, that’s a good thing. Whether it’s anecdotal or not, the fact that we as patients take more responsibility for our own dental health is a win-win.

Here’s a novel idea, we could actually ask our dentists about the oil pulling change next time we’re in the chaise for an under the hood dental diagnostic.

In another study by the NCBI published in 2008, oil pulling can be used as an effective preventive adjunct in maintaining and improving oral health.

How Does Oil Pulling Work?


According to this FoxNews.com article, Ayurveda expert Dr. Scott Gerson, illustrates how oil pulling has been shown to help prevent many common disorders. Theoretically, oil pulling reduces inflammation by absorbing the body’s toxins – known as ama. Ranging from pesticides and fertilizers to chlorine and ammonia, these toxins are found in the air, water and food supply and are imbibed by unknowing individuals on a daily basis.

Oil pulling is believed to “pull out” toxins circulating in the tissues lining the oral cavity, as well as the toxins in the local blood supply found in the tongue – one of the most vascular organs in the body.

Both sesame and coconut oil (and the less-commonly used sunflower oil) contain essential fatty acids, which are thought to be the proper solvent for the majority of the body’s toxins.

“Most of the toxins in the body are non-polar or lipophilic, meaning they’re the opposite of water-soluble; they’re fat soluble,” Gerson said. “So if you eat an apple that’s been sprayed with pesticides, and those toxins from the fertilizer get into your body, those toxins are fat soluble. They stay deposited in the fat areas of the body, and they’re hard to bring back into solution with water.”

The Fox News article goes on to mention how oil pulling can be used in combination with tongue scraping and herbal toothpaste (containing Neem – a species of tree native to India) to enhance the positive effects of your oil pulling oral health routine.

Whichever side of the oil pulling for oral health debate we fall, one thing is certain. If we can all develop a better understanding of what is going on inside our bodies – a fundamental principle of Ayurveda – the better we can take care of ourselves, and the better our doctors or dentists can help us all achieve optimal oral & overall health.

The bottom line is, talk to your dentist about oil pulling if you want to give it a go!

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+Chris Barnard is Managing Editor of DentalPatientNews.com, a patient-centric Social Dental Network blog dedicated to enabling the digital dental health conversation - and the eradication of the cavity creeps.
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