Coconut oil pulling, swishing oil in the mouth, has become the new fad in recent years. It dates back 3,000 to 5,00 years ago as an ancient Ayurvedic practice. Proponents are claiming that it will improve overall health as well as oral health and whiten teeth. These possible health benefits are believed to be true due to it reducing bacteria, strengthen gums and alveolar bone. Some articles have cited potential adverse health effects including, lipoid pneumonia and or mineral oil aspiration.
Currently the ADA believes “oil pulling is not recommended as a supplementary oral hygiene practice, and certainly not as a replacement for standard…modalities.”A recent study by Asokan S. et al in 2009 compared the effects of oil pulling against chlorhexidine mouthwash. Twenty individuals were randomly selected and divided into either the oil pulling group or chlorhexidine group, with 10 in each group.
Each individual had their baseline plaque index and modified gingival index scores recorded. Both groups had a statistically significant reduction in plaque and modified gingival index scores. Studies have been shown the benefits oil pulling, however the ADA believes that “oil pulling… [is] certainly not a replacement for standard, time tested oral health behaviors and modalities. The ADA recommends that patients follow a standard oral hygiene…”
When addressing patients in regards to oil pulling after considering all aspects it seems best to advise the patient of the potential risks and benefits outlined as well as informing that it should not replace routing dental hygiene of brushing, flossing and dental check ups every 4 – 6 months.