I’ve been approached quite a few times this past year about oil pulling. This technique is based off an Ayurvedic remedy for oral diseases in which you rinse your mouth for 20 minutes with oil and then spit it out. A quick internet search will show supporters touting oil pulling to healing all sorts of conditions and critics attack it saying there is not much research to support any claims. I’ve found a few articles written by researchers in India and some research done in Germany too. I’m sure there will be more papers coming out soon since this is a popular topic now. Part of my job is to look for alternatives for my clientele who don’t want to use traditional medicines due to toxicity concerns so of course oil pulling is of great interest to me. It’s becoming a more accepted technique in holistic dentistry.
The research out there does show there is a significant effect on reducing bacteria involved in plaque formation and a reduced level of gingivitis. It’s not a powerful as a current chlorohexidine based rinse but it is still shown to be effective. The oil used in this study was coconut oil. So if somebody is looking for a natural way to reduce their plaque levels and gingivitis, then I would wholeheartedly recommend oil pulling for them in addition to brushing and flossing. Especially if you are prone to getting decay, even with proper home care.
I saw information in which a toxicologist found no toxins in the oil spit out after an oil pulling session but this researcher did find it reduced oral candida albicans. He wrote that people with dentures who were suffering from candida infections in the mouth got rid of their infections using olive oil during oil pulling. I couldn’t find any other literature on this but if you’re suffering from candida infections in the mouth and you don’t want to use traditional drugs then it’s definitely worth a shot. I’ve not had the chance to see results in my own patients with this technique but it would be interesting to see one. So I can’t comment on the other health benefits of oil pulling but preventing dental disease does have great effects on whole body health.
This reminds of of a patient I saw once who just came in from India to study at a local univeristy. His visit to me was his first dental visit ever (he was 40 years old) and I was afraid of what I was going to find while he was getting his xrays done. When I saw his xrays I was completely shocked. I saw a few areas of hardened calculus but his bone levels looked good and I did not see any decay. My clinical exam also found no cavities although he had staining all over his mouth, he drank coffee and tea multiple times a day and had never had a dental cleaning. I asked him what he did for homecare and he mentioned oil pulling. I dismissed it at that time because this was before oil pulling was a hot topic and I had no idea what he was talking about. I would never go on record to say oil pulling will stop all cavities and gum disease but I do believe it is a powerful adjunct to regular traditional home care.
I’ve tried oil pulling myself, I will admit it’s a difficult thing to do at first. To swish oil around the mouth for 20 minutes is no easy feat and I found my jaw muscles tiring after awhile. And since I’ve not had a cavity in over 30 years I stopped since I’m not prone to decay anyways. But for those who are always getting decay no matter what you do, I’d recommend it. Here’s a link to another blog I’ve written on preventing cavities:
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