Does Oil pulling work?
Dr Claudia Welch, Doctor of Oriental Medicine and Āyurvedic practitioner, undertook a personal study of oil pulling after reading that it was an ancient Ayurvedic practice.
Welch says on her website, "I had been studying Ayurveda since 1985, in the US, in India, and had never heard of [oil pulling].
With her bounty of knowledge around Oriental and Ayurvedic practices she surmised that although it's probably not an ancient Ayurvedic practice, it might still be beneficial.
"Oil is viscous, and pulling it repeatedly through our teeth, subjects our oral muscles to significantly more effort than they are used to," says Welch.
"Increased blood flow to tissues anywhere in the body help improve the health of those tissues by carrying more nutrition to the tissues, and more waste away so, increasing blood flow to oral tissues could improve the health of the gums and other local tissues."
What are the benefits of oil pulling?
When it comes to the benefits, Welch says, "Increasing blood flow to the area and efficacy of waste removal could serve to stimulate secretions from the nose or mouth, and help clear the local channels."
Which means? "I could see this having the potential to benefit most any disorders of the mouth, sinuses and head and face in general."
Good to know.
What results can you expect?
Contrary to Welch's beliefs, a study published in the Indian Journal of Dental Research claims oil pulling is an ancient Indian Folk remedy.
"Oil pulling has been used extensively as a traditional Indian folk remedy for many years for strengthening teeth, gums, and the jaw and to prevent decay, oral malodor, bleeding gums, dryness of the throat, and cracked lips," says the report.
20 adolescent boys with plaque-induced gingivitis were subjected to oil pulling with sesame oil every day for 10 days.
The result? "The oil pulling therapy showed a reduction in the plaque index, modified gingival scores, and total colony count of aerobic microorganisms in the plaque of adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis."
In other words, you can expect improved dental health.
Are there any dangers in oil pulling?
Most of the comments about oil pulling are positive but there are rare cases where people have been concerned that oil pulling can loosen amalgam fillings.
Bernita Wilson says, "I did try this practice several years ago, and it DID loosen several fillings. The loosening happened within 3 weeks."
"I thought the practice was helpful as far as addressing the actual gum issues I was attempting to address — but I was not willing to lose all of my fillings to do that."
Oil Pulling step-by-step instructions
- Take a tablespoon of coconut oil
- Swish it around your mouth
- Start with 5 mins per day and build up to 20
- Floss and brush as normal
"A gentle swishing, pushing, and sucking the oil through the teeth is all that's required," says Jessica Emery, of Sugar Fix Dental, Chicago.
"Oil pulling should never replace routine dental visits and traditional home oral care," Emery tells WebMD. "It doesn't reverse the effects of tooth decay, but it's a great supplemental therapy."