Oil Pulling Continued....

A few weeks ago, the following happened in our office:  Here we were, several of us, up at the front desk, chatting about the phenomenon of oil pulling, when a patient, hearing our conversation, approached us and said she had tried it!  We eagerly questioned her about her experience, and she offered the following:  First of all, one tablespoon of oil is just too much for your mouth to handle (remember, the directions were one tablespoon of refined coconut oil swished continually through the mouth for 20 minutes). Secondly, pulling the oil for 20 minutes meant that at some point(s) during that period of time, you had to swallow, and so you had to learn how to hold the oil in one part of your mouth while you cleared the saliva out of the rest of your mouth.  That proved to be quite tricky and took a while to get used to.  Thirdly, although the teeth felt refreshed after pulling, there was a look of whitish liquid at the gumline afterwards that was noticeable and undesirable. 

An overall positive review?  Partly.  The patient said she did not stay with the practice, and therein lies the rub:  20 minutes a day is a huge commitment for the average Silicon Valley resident, who works long hours, has many daily obligations, and would find it hard to add yet another thing to their already jam-packed schedule.

But back to the original question:  does oil pulling work?  The official line from the American Dental Association is that there has been insufficient research done on oil pulling to render an opinion on benefits and risks.  No doubt the recent popularity of the practice will lead to more studies, and it will be interesting to follow the research on this subject as it appears.  In the meantime, most likely oil pulling is safe and may have many positive health benefits for your mouth.  Just remember:  it does not get rid of cavities that are already present, and it doesn’t put back bone around your teeth that you have lost due to gum (periodontal) disease.  Any positive effects it has are preventive, not restorative.  And, 20 minutes of swishing daily is a long time – a very long time.