The latest dentistry-related craze to hit social media has been an article on the miraculous benefits of "oil-pulling" on oral health. Some articles claim that this new fad can even eliminate acne and eczema, cures hang-overs, aids in sleep problems, and helps alleviate general pain. Could oil-pulling be a new cure-all health practice or is it just another pseudoscience fad?
Oil-pulling is an ancient folk practice originating from India. Essentially, this practice entails swishing a tablespoon of any cold pressed, vegetable-based oil like coconut oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes every morning.
If you haven't seen any of these articles yet, here are a few of the dentistry-related claims they make:
- Removes bacteria and toxins in your mouth and lymph system
- Re-mineralizes teeth
- Strengthens gums
- Whitens teeth naturally
- Reduces bad breath
Groups of bloggers and scientific researchers have both been questioning the validity of all these claims. Although there is some scientific literature supporting some of the claimed benefits of oil-pulling, the research does not lend any clear substantial support. In fact, some report that a placebo effect is actually taking place.
An online community of doctors called Science Based Medicine state that "oil pulling for general health or any other indication is pure pseudoscience." Other scientists and medical practitioners are choosing to take a more middle-ground stance on this practice. Dr. Sanda Moldovan, a periodontist, agrees that maintaining proper oral health is essential to be healthy overall and that oil-pulling is just another (and not necessarily crucial) method of maintaining healthy teeth. Studies have shown that coconut oil does indeed remove harmful bacteria from your mouth. However, research has also shown that oil-pulling is not much better than regular mouthwash in removing harmful bacteria in your mouth.
The verdict? It would best be advised that people should remain cautious to believe and try everything they read online through social media. Although oil-pulling might have some health benefits, it seems that there is not enough scientific support to back up all of its claims.
Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. Kim or Dr.Pradhan. Dr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.
Image credit: http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2011/01/19/olive-oil_sq-e4b656991b973d6de22fb74a05922bb0650e9e5a-s6-c30.jpg