Oil Pulling — Ayurvedic medicine dating back thousands of years, the latest trend in oral health?
Any time spent recently on the internet has probably led you to some article on oil pulling. Not only is it claimed to be better than conventional oral hygiene, but many are claiming benefits such as healthier hair, clearer skin, whiter teeth, elimination of parasites, improved body odor, and easing of joint pains. This newly focused attention on the importance of oral health is always welcomed, however, it is important as professionals to make certain these trends are actually delivering what they are promising.
Should you make oil pulling a new part of your health routine? Here are some reasons to avoid oil pulling.
First, if it did work, it takes too long. Almost all of the proponents of oil pulling suggest 20 minutes of swishing to obtain the benefit. Twenty minutes for most people to add to their “normal” routine will seem like a lifetime. Brushing our teeth twice a day for two minutes and flossing for another minute or even two equates to at most six minutes daily. This is even hard for a lot of people to do. I am saving you 14 minutes by not doing oil pulling. You’re welcome 🙂 Proper brushing and flossing have been shown to be effective at keeping our teeth and gums healthy. Why drift from something proven and endorsed by the American Dental Association? I realize the traditional approach isn’t as exciting, and unlikely to be endorsed by glamorous celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, but nonetheless, this approach will be successful, time after time.
Second, it doesn’t do what they claim it does. As for the oil pulling and the claims of whiter teeth and better oral health, there is no evidence to back up the claims. A positive effect on bad breath and bacteria that cause decay. Hmmm…..now one can’t be sure, but perhaps the mere act of swishing anything in one’s mouth for twenty minutes could remove bacteria, but there are simply no quality studies to prove this. The ones that do exist use research from extremely small sample size with questionable experimental design.
Third, it is not risk free. What harm can it do? This brings me to a little known thing called lipid pneumonia. It is a specific form of pneumonia that develops when aerosolized oil enters the lungs. Will this happen to you if you oil pull? I am not saying it will but there are risks that many proponents fail to discuss or mention when touting these “new” ideas.
Finally, my recommendation is this. Please don’t spend your valuable time and money on unproven methods, when it concerns something as important as oral health. Instead invest in maintaining good oral health with your qualified, concerned and caring dentist. Studies are finding that our health depends on us making oral health a priority. Heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and ED are just a few of the proven diseases associated with poor oral health. Now is the time for us to understand the importance of oral health and for us to focus on documented approaches with professionals to maintain the optimum level. As we now know, this is critical to our health.
Perhaps we in the dental field need to promote the fact that chew sticks, the predecessor to the toothbrush, were discovered in tombs in Babylonia in 3500 BC… if ancient makes it interesting.