Oil pulling has become a very hot topic recently due to many social media sites and seems to be spreading like wildfire. Many of my patients have either asked me about oil pulling, or practice it themselves. So what is it, and how does this relate to oral health?
Oil pulling is a daily treatment involving swishing, sucking, or pulling an edible oil (sesame, coconut, and sunflower are examples) in the mouth and between the teeth for 10-15 minutes daily. In the Ayurvedic text, Charaka Samhita, it is mentioned and claims to cure many systemic diseases. After this oil is swished, the oil is spit out in its now milky white stage.
The American Dental Association does not have any scientific studies to back or discourage oil pulling. There are studies published in other journals such as the Indian Journal of Dental Research as well as the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine which I have listed below. The effectiveness at plaque and bacterial reduction still needs more scientific verification, however, I appreciate hearing and learning how these alternative therapies are being incorporated into patients lives. As more scientific information becomes available, I will continue to follow this growing practice with interest.