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Brilliant or Bulls*!t: Oil Pulling Benefits On Oral Health

Updated: Feb 8

Is Oil Pulling really beneficial?
Unmasking oil pulling: Join me as we separate fact from folklore in the world of oral health. Are you team oil swish or evidence-backed brilliance? Head to my latest blog for a grin that stands the test of science!

As a dental hygienist and content creator, I'm always keeping a watchful eye on the ever-evolving landscape of dental trends. After all, it's a dynamic field where innovative practices emerge all the time. But occasionally, a blast from the past resurfaces with claims of revolutionizing oral health. Which brings me to my next question: 

Why are the alleged oil pulling benefits trending again?

According to my social media feeds and inbox lately, this Ayurvedic practice is once again having its moment in the sun. The query on my lips: What's the deal with this controversial method, and why is it regaining traction? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about natural solutions, but only when they’re backed by actual data. So, when I saw posts about how this ancient oral detox ritual can treat everything from cavities to cancer, my professionally trained eyes couldn't help but roll a little. 

Still, I set aside my skepticism to delve into the depths of oil pulling, hoping to sift through the hype and find a nugget of truth. 

Traditional Indian remedy with Ayurvedic roots

Rooted in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine, oil pulling involves swishing oil around your mouth for a good ol' oral detox. Coconut oil was the classic go-to, but people are getting fancy these days, using olive, sunflower, and sesame seed oil as popular alternatives. The practice allegedly draws out toxins, improves oral hygiene, and even claims to contribute to overall health.

Reputed benefits of oil pulling

According to advocates, the benefits of oil pulling read like a superhero story for your oral health. From reducing plaque and bad breath to whitening teeth, preventing cavities, and fighting off gum disease, oil pulling seems like the secret sauce to a winning smile. Others suggest it can treat allergies, asthma, heart disease, diabetes and even make your morning coffee taste better (okay, I made that last one up, but who knows?).

Now, it’s time to cut through the coconut oil fog and address the elephant in the room: Does oil pulling actually live up to the hype, or is it just another wellness trend that's all sizzle and no steak?

Limited scientific evidence

Those are the 3 words you don’t want to see when wondering if you should take up a new oral health habit. While the anecdotal evidence supporting oil pulling is as abundant as essential oils at a wellness expo, the scientific backing lags far behind. 

Out of 21 completed studies, only 6 had proper study design, and most had insufficient samples, duration, or quality. Another review confirmed that chlorhexidine mouthwash is far superior to the probable oil pulling benefits for reducing plaque. Oh, and one more tiny little detail — the American Dental Association (ADA) straight-up doesn’t recommend it

It’s safe to say that limited research leaves us in the dark about the actual effectiveness of oil pulling in reducing cavities, plaque, and gum disease. The jury's out, and it seems like it might be on a lunch break! 

Things that work better

I guess there’s no harm in practicing oil pulling, but why do it? If you're serious about oral health, there are other, more evidence-backed ways to keep those pearly whites in top-notch condition. 

Here's a shortlist that'll make your dentist nod in approval:

  1. Control the pH of your mouth - Skip the oil slick and focus on maintaining the right pH. Seal your lips properly, avoid mouth breathing at night, and use pH-neutral dental products.

  2. Brush with a tapered bristle brush 2x a day - Remember, nothing beats a good ol' brush. Tapered bristle brushes give your mouth the precision it deserves, tackling plaque and keeping your teeth happy.

  3. Test your saliva - No, seriously. Testing saliva isn't just for science geeks. It can give you insights into the state of your oral health and help you tailor your hygiene routine accordingly.

  4. Clean between your teeth - A friendly reminder: cleaning between your teeth isn't just for impressing your dentist during check-ups. It's a crucial step in preventing cavities and maintaining overall gum health.

  5. Limit foods that increase the decay rate - Sorry, sugar fiends, but the candies and sodas do you more harm than good. Keeping an eye on your diet also helps to maintain good oral health.

  6. Regular dental and doctor visits - Don't neglect the professionals. Regular dental visits keep your gums in check, and general doctor visits ensure your overall health is on point. Remember, your mouth and your body are interconnected.

Final verdict — Oil pulling benefits: Brilliant or Bulls*!t?

Personally, I like my dental habits backed by science, so I’ll leave oil swishing to the almond moms and TikTokers who like a bit of mystique in their dental routine. The thing is, even though Ayurveda treatment may have some positive effects, the current evidence supporting oil pulling benefits on oral health is as thin as dental floss. While the practice may have a place in ancient traditions, let's not let nostalgia cloud our commitment to data-based oral care. 

And if you're somehow still tempted to swish that oil, hold on! Before you trust dubious influencer claims, consider the tried-and-true alternatives that have science in their corner. I've curated a list of my favorite oral health products on my Amazon Storefront, and spoiler alert: none involve coconut-scented swooshing sessions. 

In the quest for a radiant smile, navigating the world of wellness trends with a discerning eye is essential. Don't let the hype oil up your expectations. Stick to the evidence-backed basics; your teeth will thank you with a gleaming, plaque-free smile. 

Cheers to oral health that reflects the wisdom of both tradition and science!


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