What’s the Deal with Oil Pulling?

What's the deal with Oil Pulling? Has everyone heard of this? Oil pulling is an Indian therapy that is used by its practitioners to improve oral and systemic health. While it may be new to most of us, it’s actually ancient, dating back to over 3000 years ago. Basically, you use an oil, such as sesame, coconut, or sunflower, and swish it around in your mouth for 15 – 20 minutes and then spit it out, like a mouthwash. By moving the oil between your teeth, it’s supposed to “pull” the bacteria into the oil, reducing the harmful bacteria in your mouth that lead to cavities, plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath. There are also many other claims that have been made as to how oil pulling can benefit your health, including helping with problems such as migraines, asthma, and even diabetes. While those claims might seem far-fetched, there are proven relationships that link oral health and systemic diseases, so if oil pulling improves oral health, who knows… it might help those conditions as well. The fact is, we don’t know. Like most pseudo-scientific home remedies, there is little research to back any of these claims. However, some recent pilot studies have shown that oil pulling can reduce the amount of harmful bacteria in the mouth responsible for tooth decay, gingivitis, and bad breath, which is a start. Some patients have asked me if they should do it, and I have no problem with it. So far in my research, I haven’t found any indication that oil pulling could negatively impact your health. It is not a substitute, however, for brushing and flossing. Sorry ☺ But, if you use it as an adjunct to your normal daily hygiene routine, it sounds like it does make a difference. As more and more people look for natural ways to treat different health problems, oil pulling seems like the new trend in dental care. To be honest, I LOVE a good natural home remedy (I might even give this one a try). Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

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