Dr. Walsh and I have recently had some of our patients ask us about oil pulling. I have to admit, the first time I was asked I responded with, “ I have no idea what oil pulling is. Please explain this to me.” The patient that I was seeing did explain to me that oil pulling is an ayurvedic traditional medicine in which oil is placed into the mouth and then swished around in order to remove impurities and toxins in an “osmosis-like” manner. The idea is that the oil draws out the impurities. It also cures everything from periodontal disease to migraines to colds and flues to chronic illnesses, just to name a few.
Sounds easy, right?
Sorry, I am always sceptical of the “easy cure” for periodontal disease. Especially when it only involves swooshing magic solution/oil/compounds through one’s mouth.
So, what is a hygienist to do? I went back to google and popped “oil pulling” into the search bar. I got a heap of hits that were all written testimonials about how wonderful oil pulling is and what type of oil to use. Which is lovely, but doesn’t satisfy my need for double bind, randomized clinical trials. So I kept searching and came up with an article detailing the concerns for aspiration-induced pneumonia as a potential result of oil pulling.1 This is the fancy term for yucky pneumonia caused by accidentally inhaling the oil. No thank you.
The American Dental Association has also come out with a position statement on their website which you can find at #2 below.2 The summarized version is that oil pulling does not work and may in fact be dangerous to your health (see number 1 above). The ADA advocates brushing twice a day and using either floss or interdental aids for “in-between” tooth cleaning. If you are passionate about rinsing, they also recommend Listerine.2
To be completely honest, I am not sold on all of the virtues of oil pulling and as your hygienist, I would recommend that you do not oil pull until further research has been done. Feel free to pop in and have a chat with either Dr. Walsh or this dentist if you would like more information, or check out any of the sources listed below.