Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing oil in the mouth for several minutes as a means of improving oral health. While there are claims that oil pulling can help prevent tooth decay, bad breath, and gum disease, there is limited scientific evidence to support these claims. Here are the risks and benefits of oil pulling for oral health from a medical professional point of view.
Reduces plaque: A study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry found that oil pulling with sesame oil significantly reduced plaque and gingivitis.
Reduces bad breath: Oil pulling has been shown to reduce halitosis (bad breath) by reducing the number of bacteria in the mouth.
Promotes healthy gums: Another study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine found that oil pulling with coconut oil helped improve gum health by reducing inflammation.
Risk of aspiration: Swallowing large amounts of oil during oil pulling may lead to aspiration pneumonia or lipid pneumonia if the oil enters the lungs instead of being expelled.
Not a substitute for dental hygiene: Oil pulling should not be used as a substitute for regular brushing, flossing, and dental checkups. It is important to maintain good oral hygiene practices alongside any additional treatments or remedies.
Allergic reactions: Some people may have allergic reactions to certain types of oils used for oil pulling.
While there are some potential benefits to using oil pulling for oral health, it should not be considered a replacement for traditional dental hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing regularly, as well as visiting your dentist regularly. Research on its effectiveness is limited and inconclusive at this time.
As medical professionals, we recommend discussing any concerns about your oral health or treatment options with your dentist or healthcare provider before trying any new remedy or treatment.
Asokan S et al., "Effect of Oil Pulling on Plaque and Gingivitis", Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry (2008).
Peedikayil FC et al., "Effectiveness of Coconut Oil Pulling on Oral Health: A Systematic Review", Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine (2016).
Raghavendra SS et al., "Oil Pulling - Unraveling The Myth", Journal Of Clinical And Diagnostic Research (2014).