We’re all about a health trend around these parts, so of course we had to know more about trendy oil pulling for ourselves. A folk health remedy that can be found in early Ayurvedic medicine texts, it has been touted as a cure for all sorts of health issues, and is generally assumed to be a great overall “detox” treatment.
Is It All Hype?
The technique requires you to take about a tablespoon of oil (Ayurvedic tradition call for sesame but any edible oil would do) and swish it around in your mouth for twenty minutes. When you spit the oil out, it’s supposed to take a bunch of plaque and bacteria along with it.
The American Dental Association does not approve. A quick visit to their website shows that they fall squarely into the “this is a crock of BS,” camp.
“Oil pulling is not recommended as a supplementary oral hygiene practice, and certainly not as a replacement for standard, time-tested oral health behaviors and modalities…Brushing with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between teeth help prevent cavities and keep gums healthy,” says the copy on their website.
Well, sure. What the ADA is saying is that this should not replace your current regular teeth brushing and flossing, which feels like kind of a “duh,” statement. But in terms of adding it to an already decent oral care routine, is there a health benefit?
The Results Are In
The answer appears to be yes. In an interview with Jezebel, periodontist Dr. Sanda Moldovanexplained that scientifically, oil pulling does reduce bacteria in our mouth. By swishing oil around our mouths, we create friction that allows the oil to pull surface plaque and bacteria out, as studies on oil pulling show. Once we spit out all that bad stuff, our now cleaner mouths can operate to the best of their abilities.
And a cleaner mouth leads to all sorts of very scientifically proven health effects. By improving you oral health, you can reduce sinus infections, ear infections, and sore throats; lower your risk of cardiovascular disease; and induce a host of other great benefits.
The ANY Magazine team recently gave oil pulling a shot, and we all found it to be a pretty easy process, though most of us felt that ten minutes of swishing was enough. Editor David J.Krause tried sesame oil, and the flavor got to be a bit much for him. I tried already melted coconut oil, and had no problems with the flavor or texture. One important note: spit your used coconut oil into the trash, not the drain, because it will harden up at room temperature and clog your pipes.
Our final take? Given the added health benefits, if you already brush you teeth and floss daily, than oil pulling is a welcome and easy addition.