Let’s get to the bottom of it….

Coconut oil pulling is a holistic health practice that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. In the last few years, it has been re-introduced into our modern day culture. Coconut oil pulling is promoted as a health practice capable of curing almost anything, including gum disease.

Oil pull to fight gum disease and smelly breath…?

Oil pulling claims to dislodge and attract bacteria, thereby healing the mouth of gingivitis and bad breath. But does this hold true? Well, in one scientific study, the research found that coconut oil pulling did not significantly decrease the S.Mutans bacteria responsible for gingivitis until one to two weeks of use. However, the chlorohexidine rinse often prescribed to help treat gingivitis showed a significant reduction in the S.Mutans bacteria within 48 hours of treatment. Therefore, chlorohexidine rinse is still superior compared to coconut oil pulling in the treatment and control of gingivitis. However, in another dental study, coconut oil pulling was found to be equally as effective as chlorohexidine rinse to reduce bad breath and the bacteria responsible for bad breath.

It’s believed that the swishing action is the vital component in oil pulling. The mechanical action of the swishing is what ultimately dislodges the bacteria and attracts it to the oil, thus, notably decreasing the bacteria in the mouth after 1-2 weeks of use. So, swishing in general is a helpful practice that will help loosen and expel bacteria from the mouth.

How to oil pull

To oil pull, swish around a teaspoon of any organic/plant-based oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes (coconut oil or sesame oil are popular oils to use). Be sure NOT to swallow any of the oil in the process as it will have accumulated many bacteria and toxins. After the 15-20 minutes, spit the oil out in a trash can (not the sink – this will put your pipes in danger!) and rinse your mouth with water.

So, is coconut oil pulling a good oral health practice?

The most important factor to consider about oil pulling is that coconut oil pulling does not harm. Therefore, oil pulling can be used as a helpful adjunct to preventative oral health care practices at home. However, it is not advisable to become reliant on oil pulling to become to treat gingivitis and maintain optimum oral health. It’s important to remember that oil pulling with any oil does not remove tartar (a primary contributor to gingivitis) – only regular dental cleanings with a professional can. In addition to this, the benefits of oral hygiene practices at home like flossing, swishing with antibacterial mouth rinse and proper tooth brushing cannot be replaced with oil pulling. Oil pulling oils such as coconut or sesame do not contain fluoride, which is another important concern for individuals with a higher risk of cavities or tooth sensitivity.

If you’ve got the time…

Another factor to consider when using coconut oil is the time needed for oil pulling to be effective in reducing bacteria. At least 15-20 minutes are needed daily for a minimum of 1-2 weeks to see slight benefits. Therefore, compliance over the long term is a very important factor to consider when selecting oral hygiene care routines at home. Committing to oral hygiene care activities at home that are easy to use and highly effective in both the short and long term is vital maintaining optimum oral health. Besides, regular use of an antibacterial mouthwash like Listerine Total Care with fluoride has been proven scientifically and clinically to reduce harmful bacteria in the mouth and prevent gingivitis – and this is a much less time consuming practice.

Our conclusion: Do what makes you happy (as long as it’s part of a complete oral care routine)!

Coconut oil certainly offers many health benefits both inside and outside of the body. Using a high quality, raw organic virgin coconut oil to obtain nutritional health advantages is key, but may also be quite expensive. Perhaps, using coconut oil as a nutritional supplement or as a natural moisturizer on the skin are some of the ways you can benefit from its many health benefits – but when it comes to preventing gingivitis and keeping your smile healthy, rinses like Listerine Total Care and chlorohexidine rinse remain busy lifestyle-friendly, cost-effective and highly effectual.

Maple Dental Hygiene Care’s friendly and experienced dental hygienist Pina Mazza is here to help you with all your oral hygiene care needs! Contact Pina today to schedule a visit.


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