You may have heard of a new trend that is gaining popularity for its dental and physical health benefits - a trend called oil pulling. But what exactly is oil pulling, and are its perceived benefits a myth or the real deal? Before you get on board, you may want to read what general dentistry experts like Thomas G. Zarger, Jr., DDS, have to say about the oil pulling trend.
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice designed to improve the health of your teeth and gums. The process consists of forcefully working a moderate amount of a healthful type of oil through your teeth for up to 15 minutes. Many proponents recommend using sesame oil, coconut oil, or olive oil for the oil pulling process.
The benefits of oil pulling can vary greatly, depending on whom you ask. According to advocates of the process, oil pulling can help to reduce plaque and tartar buildup by killing bacteria that may be hiding around teeth and gums. This not only serves to freshen breath and protect teeth from cavities and decay, but can also protect gums from irritation, inflammation, and periodontitis or gum disease. Fans also claim that oil pulling can enhance the natural whiteness of their teeth. While this may vary from patient to patient, preliminary studies have shown a real decrease in bacteria in the mouths of patients who have oil pulled.
In comparison to the benefits, the risks associated with oil pulling are extremely minor. The biggest risk is for patients who believe the more hyperbolic claims about oil pulling, that it can cure ailments ranging from migraines to oral cancer. Not much research has been done yet on the oil pulling process, meaning that any observed benefits are informal and fully speculative. But science and medicine would suggest that bigger issues are worth discussing with your doctor and following a tested and approved medical treatment protocol.
With all of the benefits that you may have heard about oil pulling, it can be tempting to believe that the process can actually replace everything from brushing and flossing to your regularly scheduled dental check-ups. But don’t get too carried away - routine visits to the dentist are still crucial. Oil pulling may help to keep cavities away, but once tooth decay has taken hold there is little that oil pulling (or any preventative measure, for that matter) can do. At that point, neglecting routine dental checkups could allow a once easily fixable cavity to progress to a point where more involved measures such as root canal therapy and dental crowns are required to repair the damage.
Oil pulling may not be a cure-all - but as part of a varied dental hygiene regimen, it may be able to improve your overall dental health. If you still have questions about oil pulling or anything else related to dental hygiene, don’t hesitate to call an experienced professional. Contact the dental office of Thomas G. Zarger, Jr., DDS, to schedule an appointment and learn more about oil pulling and other dental trends today.