Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Oil Pulling - Is it really good for your dental health?

If you've been paying attention to popular media, you'll probably recall the oil pulling craze that everyone was talking about earlier this year. As with most social media topics, oil pulling was in the forefront of people's news feeds and even the subject of debate among some health professionals, but the hype has already died down quite a bit. Still, there are those who swear by it and continue to claim that this ancient holistic method works wonders, aiding in everything from teeth whitening to allergy relief.

But is oil pulling really all it's cracked up to be? While we can't necessarily discount the potential benefits of oil pulling, as dental professionals we can say that this practice is NOT a substitute for the traditional dental hygiene methods recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA). These methods include daily brushing and flossing as well as regular yearly dental cleanings, oral cancer screenings and using ADA-accepted products.

What exactly is oil pulling, anyway?

Oil pulling is the practice of swishing a tablespoon of edible oil (such as coconut or sunflower oil) in the mouth and "pulling" it between the teeth for 1-20 minutes. The oil is thought to clean out the mouth and provide a multitude of health benefits, however scientific studies have yet to confirm the validity of these claims.

"Current reports on the potential health benefits of oil pulling have clear limitations.  Existing studies are unreliable for a number of reasons, including the misinterpretation of results due to small sample size, confounders, absence of negative controls, lack of demographic information , and lack of blinding. To date, scientific studies have not provided the necessary clinical evidence to demonstrate that oil pulling reduces the incidence of dental caries, whitens teeth or improves oral health and well-being." - ADA

Have adverse effects of oil pulling been reported? 

Although rare, the ADA says reports of lipoid pneumonia associated with oil pulling or mineral oil aspiration have appeared in the literature. Incidents of upset stomach and diarrhea have been reported, though unfortunately most popular media sites neglect to mention this.

The bottom line here is that, while the adverse effects of oil pulling are rare, there is still a risk for serious (or at the very least unpleasant) health problems. And like any folk remedy, oil pulling has not been scientifically proven to provide health benefits, so practice with caution and discuss any concerns with your doctor.

No comments:

Post a Comment