Since you were young, you’ve heard about caring for your teeth by brushing, using mouthwash and visiting the dentist. Now, however, another oral hygiene practice that’s growing in popularity may have caught your eye: oil pulling. Proponents claim that the practice of oil pulling can make your mouth healthier and whiten your teeth. Does it actually work? Read on to discover what the evidence shows.
All About Oil Pulling
Before you learn whether oil pulling is an effective oral hygiene practice, you should understand what it entails. To do oil pulling, you are supposed to put a tablespoon of organic, cold-pressed oil in your mouth first thing in the morning. Recommended varieties of oil include:
Instead of swallowing the spoonful of oil, you hold it in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes as you swish the oil around. The oil will mix with your saliva, and the volume of the liquid will grow. At the end of the 20 minutes, you can spit out the oil.
According to fans of oil pulling, this practice may lead to:
- Whiter teeth
- Fewer cavities
- Reduced inflammation
- Less trouble with plaque and gingivitis
- Better breath
- Reduced gum sensitivity
- Stronger teeth
How Oil Pulling Could Make a Difference
Does oil pulling whiten teeth? There’s no hard evidence to support this, but proponents still insist that oil pulling has legitimate benefits. Some oils have antibacterial properties, plus, swishing with oil temporarily increases your saliva production. This, in turn, may help knock out some of the bacteria that typically like to hang out in your mouth in the form of plaque. Having fewer oral bacteria may mean that you have fresher breath and a reduced risk of cavities and gingivitis.
In a roundabout way, then, oil pulling could, theoretically, improve the color of your teeth. With less plaque clinging to your teeth, you may experience less staining.
However, it’s worth noting that swishing oil around in your mouth isn’t the only way to increase your saliva production. Dentists often recommend other ways to dilute the collection of bacteria in your mouth. Methods approved by dental professionals include:
- Using mouthwash
- Chewing sugar-free gum
- Swishing plain water around your mouth
Oil Pulling Drawbacks
Although it’s possible that oil pulling might make a difference, it’s not particularly easy to do it, especially at first. Holding a mouthful of coconut or sesame oil for even a few minutes can be unpleasant. Leaving it there for 20 minutes can be downright terrible. As the oil and the saliva blend together, the liquid takes up more and more space in your mouth, and its consistency changes. By the time you spit it out, it can become very difficult to tolerate.
More importantly, scientific studies on oil pulling are limited. Some studies do demonstrate that this practice can help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth. However, the results usually reveal that oil pulling’s effectiveness is comparable to that of more commonly accepted approaches, such as rinsing with mouthwash.
Also, although studies demonstrate oil’s ability to remove some of your oral bacteria, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this practice can break down plaque buildup. Dentists usually recommend that you apply gentle pressure to your teeth in order to clear away the plaque. Ways to clean your teeth with pressure include brushing your teeth, flossing them and getting professional dental cleanings.
In addition, there’s not much scientific evidence that clearly supports the idea that oil pulling can whiten your teeth. Those claims are typically based on anecdotal reviews rather than hard scientific proof. Unfortunately, reviews can be quite mixed. While some people claim to get great results from oil pulling, others see no change or may even have negative experiences.
Alternatives to Oil Pulling
While there isn’t much evidence of oil pulling’s effectiveness for improving your oral health, there are other, more established ways to care for your smile. These include:
- Brushing your teeth
- Flossing regularly
- Rinsing with alcohol-free mouthwash each day
- Getting regular dental cleanings
- Not using tobacco
Even if you do choose to try oil pulling, it should be only one component of your oral hygiene routine. Don’t forgo other reliable methods in favor of oil pulling.
Does Oil Pulling Whiten Teeth?
There’s no clear evidence that oil pulling can make a difference in the color of your teeth. You’re better off treating your teeth in ways that are more likely to be effective. Professional teeth whitening can help you achieve the pearly whites you deserve. Because professional procedures are done under the supervision of a trained dentist, you can trust that you will achieve your whitened teeth in a way that is safe, thorough and effective.
If you have more questions about your oral health and teeth whitening, contact your nearest Fortson Dentistry location and set up an appointment today.