What is oil pulling?

Health

Have you found yourself swishing coconut oil around your mouth yet? Apparently, it will give you fresher breath and whiter teeth. But what do the experts have to say? We ask dentist Dr Rhona Eskander if oil pulling is worth the time…

What is oil pulling?

An ancient Ayurveda method that involves swilling a tablespoon of oil (commonly coconut oil but you can also use sesame or olive oil) around your mouth for around 20 minutes. The purpose is to ‘pull’ bad bacteria from the mouth and spit it out when you’re finished. It is thought it’s best to do it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

What are the benefits?

Advocates claim it can improve your oral health by killing the bacteria that causes bad breath, helping to prevent cavities and reducing inflammation and bleeding gums. Some people also believe it can be used as a natural way to whiten teeth and to detox and rejuvenate the body as it draws out toxins.

However, dentist Dr Rhona Eskander says “there is absolutely no scientific research to show it can whiten teeth. People are into it because the oil is a lubricant and it can help dislodge particles from your teeth. The only thing that whitens teeth is peroxide.”

Photo: Dr Rhona Eskander

What are the dangers?

Dr Eskander warns that people are buying over the counter products to whiten their teeth when they don’t know why their teeth are yellow in the first place.  “Oil pulling will not replace a dentist or a toothbrush. It’s a massive thing at the moment where I see people substituting home remedies for seeing the dentist,” she says.

But she adds: “It’s a natural substance so I would rather they use it over a charcoal toothpaste which can do irreversible damage to the enamel and causes sensitivity and discolouration.”

To summarise

There is little evidence to suggest oil pulling will whiten teeth or remove toxins so don’t get rid of your toothbrush and dental floss just yet. However, coconut oil does have some anti-bacterial properties and won’t necessarily do any harm.

By Sam

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