Oil Pulling for Dentistry: Is it Safe?

Oil pulling is one of the latest “health trends” originating from ancient Asia for dental hygiene and teeth whitening purposes. While results vary and research evidence remains mixed, the American Dental Association (ADA) does not support oil pulling as a dental hygiene practice. Oil pulling has very few negative consequences, although some can be serious. The ADA maintains that brushing your teeth twice a day, using an antibacterial mouthwash and flossing daily are still the most effective at-home dental hygiene techniques.

What does the act of “oil pulling” consist of?

Oil pulling involves taking about a tablespoon full of sesame, coconut, sunflower or olive oil and swishing it around the mouth to “pull” toxins out of the body, whiten teeth and clear food and debris from in between the teeth. People generally oil-pull for a few minutes, although some people do it for up to twenty minutes. It’s important that people don’t swallow the oil or spit it down the sink because it can clog the pipes in your house.

Are there side effects?

Yes. Some side effects may occur including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive thirst
  • Foul taste
  • Muscle exhaustion and/or stiffness
  • Gagging
  • Choking
  • Lipoid pneumonia (when oil gets into the lungs and causes pneumonia)
  • Upset stomach and/or diarrhea

It’s important to note that some oils may not be tested for their purity and could contain harmful additives such as lead, mercury and arsenic.

Who should definitely not try oil pulling?

Children and people with oral or oropharyngeal (throat & mouth) health conditions such as gum disease, oral cancer or trouble swallowing should not try to use oil pulling. In addition, oil pulling could be a total waste of time due to the minimal and unsubstantiated research results of its effectiveness. Nevertheless, if you do try it, it’s extremely important that you do not replace ADA-recommended dental hygiene practices (brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily) with oil pulling.

Advanced DDS is a dental practice on Long Island, NY where our team provides the highest quality of care for our patients. Schedule a dental consultation today at 516-825-1100.

Oil Pulling

Leave a Comment