Oil Pulling: Is it Dangerous?

Brushing, flossing, and regularly going to the dentist are just a few of the best ways to keep your oral health in great shape. In the wake of popular “Pinterest hacks” and do-it-yourself treatments, we’ve had many of our patients here in Spokane, WA ask about the effectiveness of oil pulling. This trend has recently gained a lot of attraction for the numerous health benefits associated with it. Although the effectiveness of oil pulling is a topic of debate for many, we’d like to remind our readers that “DIY” treatments won’t have enormous health benefits if you’re already dealing with serious oral health issues like severe tooth decay or tooth loss. In these particular cases, we recommend coming into Chaffin Dental Care to learn more about dental implant treatment. Many patients dealing with the consequences of tooth loss have seen beautiful, long-lasting results from their dental implant treatment.

Now back to the real question we’ve hearing — Is oil pulling effective and what are the health risks of this trend? To explain more on this topic, Dr. Chris Chaffin gives his readers an in-depth look at the effectiveness and dangers of oil pulling.

Oil Pulling Basics

Although oil pulling is a recent trend in the western hemisphere, this practice actually formed thousands of years ago in ancient India. Oil pulling involves using an oil to swish around in your mouth for a specific amount of time. Common oils used include sunflower oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and sesame oil. In ancient India, oil pulling was believed to have multiple health benefits and was particularly great for oral health. It is said that oil pulling can help strengthen the teeth, gums, and jaw. The ancient Indians believed that is was an excellent method for curing problems like TMJ, tooth decay, and gum disease.

There were two primary methods for oil pulling — Gandusha and Kavala. The Gandusha method entailed filling the entire mouth with oil for three to five minutes and then disposing of the oil. With Kavala, a comfortable amount of oil is held for three minutes and then gargled and spit out. Other practitioners of this treatment believed that holding oil for up to 25 minutes would be best for drawing out toxins. After removing the oil from your mouth, you are then supposed to gargle with salt water and continue your normal oral hygiene routine.

Supporters of oil pulling believe that it can address virtually any health issue. It is said to treat migraines, skin care issues, and other overall health problems. There are few studies that can support these claims. However, some studies also show there are some oral health benefits to oil pulling. Unfortunately, these are the same health benefits that you would enjoy from simply swishing around Listerine.

Health Risks Associated With Oil Pulling

The general consensus with oil pulling is that it may not result with a ton of benefits, but it also doesn’t hurt to try. It is this attitude that can make oil pulling particular dangerous.

The lack of evidence showing the benefits of oil pulling is alarming. Instead of seeking medical treatment for a particular health problem, individuals believe that a do-it-yourself treatment like oil pulling can treat the issue. Despite the huge health claims of oil pulling, we recommend going to an actual doctor to receive treatment.

Other dangers associated with oil pulling include using oils with harmful additives. A study from Harvard Medical School found that one in five Ayurvedic herbal medical products contained harmful levels of lead, mercury or arsenic. Oil pulling can also potentially cause lipoid pneumonia if the oil gets into the lungs. Other health risks reported from oil pulling include diarrhea or upset stomach.

Contact our Office in Spokane

Like we mentioned before, oil pulling should not be used as a replacement treatment for any health conditions. It’s important to continue your oral hygiene routine as normal when oil pulling and to immediately seek treatment if you notice oral health problems. If you’re currently dealing with tooth loss, consider dental implants to restore your smile. Dental implants can give you a natural-looking smile that can last for years to come with the proper maintenance. To get started on your dental implant journey, contact our office today to schedule your one-on-one consultation with Dr. Chaffin here in Spokane, WA.

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