Imagine taking a swig and swish of cooking oil each day? Some people swear by the practice – also known as oil pulling – as a way to fight off oral infections, prevent bad breath, even improve breath.
But does it work?
Research shows the benefits are mixed.
Small studies suggest that oil pulling may help fight off plaque and reduce tooth decay. Researchers say the lipids in the oil trap bacteria and other organisms in the mouth and reduce their ability to multiply. Spitting out the oil removes them before they enter the rest of the body.
Still, skeptics say without data on the oral and blood bacterial counts of people who oil pull regularly, it’s hard to tell whether this reduction is clinically significant.
The only side effects of oil pulling are upset stomach and diarrhea from accidentally swallowing the oil.
The American Dental Association says existing studies are unreliable and have not provided the necessary evidence to prove that oil pulling works. The ADA does, however, endorse the use of mouthwash, saying that mouthwashes that carry its seal of acceptance have been found in studies to reduce plaque and gingivitis if swished in the mouth for 30 seconds twice a day.
Our recommendation? Stick to the tried and true tools for dental care – a toothbrush and floss. Those are your best weapons against bad breath, tooth decay, and plaque!