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Oil pulling is not recommended by the American Dental Association for improved oral health.
Some studies have suggested the practice might have benefits, but experts say more research is needed.
- The most proven way to improve oral health, strengthen gums, prevent cavities, whiten teeth and reduce dental plaque, experts say, is to brush and floss regularly.
A video shared on Facebook claims that "oil pulling" — a daily 20-minute mouth rinse with a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil — improves oral health.
"It’s going to strengthen your gums, it’s going to help with cavity prevention, it whitens your teeth, it reduces plaque," a woman says in the clip.
The video’s claims go too far. Research has not established that oil pulling provides all of those benefits.
Dr. Christopher Fox, executive director of the International Association for Dental Research, said he didn’t know of any evidence from well-controlled trials that oil pulling improves those metrics of oral health.
The American Dental Association says there are no reliable scientific studies to show that oil pulling reduces cavities, whitens teeth or improves oral health and well-being. The association recommends brushing twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day.
Other health authorities don’t endorse oil pulling, but aren’t so quick to dismiss it.
"More high-quality studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of oil pulling," Health.com reported in February. "However, even though oil pulling may seem a little woo-woo compared to a stellar brushing and flossing routine, it may benefit your oral health in a few ways."
The site also recommended: "Oil pulling shouldn't replace brushing your teeth and regular dental visits."
The Cleveland Clinic agreed that oil pulling could help reduce bad bacteria, tooth decay and gum inflammation. "But the evidence-based bottom line on oil pulling is this: Oil pulling can’t substitute for brushing twice a day and flossing," a story on the clinic’s website said.
Healthline reported in March that oil pulling reduces the amount of harmful oral bacteria, including bacteria that lead to plaque and tooth decay, and may help reduce gum inflammation (gingivitis). The article said there is no evidence that oil pulling whitens teeth.
Evidence in peer-reviewed journals is mixed.
The journal Healthcare reported in an October article by Taiwanese researchers on nine oil pulling studies on humans. Five studies used sesame seed oil; four used coconut oil. The article concluded that oil pulling may beneficially reduce bacteria, but had no effect on dental plaque or gums.
Thai researchers in September 2021 reported on comparing palm oil and virgin coconut oil pulling on 36 people with inflamed gums. Palm oil pulling may reduce one type of bacteria that leads to tooth decay, researchers said, "but this requires further investigations." Virgin coconut oil showed no more effect than palm oil. Researchers recommended further investigation on it, too.
United Kingdom researchers concluded in a 2020 article that reviewed four studies of coconut oil pulling that "the limited evidence" suggests the practice "may have a beneficial effect on improving oral health and dental hygiene." But the researchers also recommended more "robust" research for high-quality evidence.
Oil pulling is not recommended by the American Dental Association for improved oral health. Although some studies have suggested it has potential benefits, experts say more research is needed. The most proven way to improve oral health, strengthen gums, prevent cavities, whiten teeth and reduce dental plaque, experts say, is to brush and floss regularly.
We rate the post Mostly False.
Facebook, post, April 12, 2023
Email, Dr. Christopher Fox, executive director of the International Association for Dental Research, April 26, 2023
CNET, "The truth about oil pulling and how to do it the right way," March 7, 2023
Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, "Microbiological effects of virgin coconut oil pulling in comparison with palm oil pulling as an adjunctive oral hygiene care for patients with gingival inflammation: A randomized controlled clinical trial," Sept. 27, 2021
Snopes, "Is oil pulling effective for curing medical ailments?" March 6, 2014
MouthHealthy.org, "Oil pulling," accessed April 26, 2023
Advanced DDS, "Oil pulling for dentistry: Is it safe?", Oct. 18, 2019
Healthline, "Oil pulling with coconut oil can transform your dental health," March 13, 2023
Health, "Everything you need to know about oil pulling," Feb. 3, 2023
Healthcare, "Effectiveness of oil pulling for Improving oral health: A meta-analysis," Oct. 11, 2022
Cleveland Clinic, "The benefits of oil pulling for dental health," Sept. 14, 2022
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