Thursday, May 22, 2014

Should I Try Oil Pulling to Whiten My Teeth?

            Oil pulling, which is an old folk remedy that originated in India, has been all the rage lately due to news coverage and social media sites. It involves swishing with an edible oil (coconut, sesame, or olive) for up to 20 minutes in your mouth before spitting it out. The goal is swish until the oil turns white, which allegedly shows that bacteria have been drawn out of your mouth. While it may eventually prove effective in some ways, dental professionals are still very hesitant to get behind the practice of oil pulling until more legitimate research can be completed.

            In theory, the removal of bacteria in your mouth sounds appealing. However, there are many different kinds of bacteria that live in the oral cavity that everyone needs to maintain good oral health. If the oil does actually remove all of the bacteria from the mouth, it could actually do more harm that good if the normal flora of bacteria is disrupted. This could lead increased risk to infections or cavities by changing the way our mouth usually defends itself.  Until more long term clinical studies have been performed, dental professionals will continue to remain skeptical.

            To effectively use the oil pulling technique, it requires 20 minutes of swishing, which is a long time to keep something in your mouth and actively swish. To achieve whiter teeth and better oral health, I would advise just spending a little extra time with the traditional toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouth rinse.  I believe that using those home care tools will yield the best long term results. And if whitening is your concern, most dental professionals agree than professional teeth bleaching will be the safest, most predictable and effective way to brighten your smile.

            Whether or not you decide to try oil pulling is ultimately your own decision. However, even if you are diligent in using this home remedy, I would strongly advise that you don’t use it to replace the more traditional homecare methods of brushing, flossing and using mouth rinse.

Please visit us at with any other questions.

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

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