Many modern health trends incorporate the use of ancient home remedies. You may have heard of some of these, such as using charcoal toothpaste or putting certain essential oils on your body, promising to cure a variety of ailments. But one of the latest trends is about good old coconut oil. The claim is that coconut oil “pulling” can have a whitening effect on your teeth. But is this true?
In this expert post, we’ll find out about what exactly coconut oil pulling can do for your teeth and oral health. Next, we’ll look at some of the advice from the scientific and medical communities. Let’s see if these claims are true!
Coconut Oil Pulling: An Ancient Trick
Coconut oil is a great, healthy plant product with numerous health benefits, especially from a dermatological perspective. Lots of people claim that it keeps your skin and hair healthy and looking great. However, there are records of it being used in Ayurvedic medicinal practices to bolster dental health. In particular, the practice of “oil pulling” is claimed to clean the mouth, reduce bad breath and enhance the health of your teeth and gums.
Coconut oil is rich in saturated fats and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). It contains primarily lauric acid and its monoglyceride monolaurin, which research shows to have antimicrobial properties.
So, the practise of oil pulling involves using a small quantity of oil and swishing it around the mouth and in between the teeth. It’s pretty simple: take about a tablespoon of coconut oil, swish or “pull” it around your mouth for about 15 minutes, and then spit it out and brush your teeth.
But does it work? Let’s see what the research has to say.
Does Coconut Oil Have Teeth Whitening Properties?
Let’s first look at what oil pulling can potentially help with.
Some studies indicate that coconut oil’s antimicrobial properties are particularly effective on some bacterial species that contribute to tooth decay. Some studies even indicate that it can be comparable to chlorhexidine, proven to be an effective antibacterial agent.
It’s hypothesized that the fatty acids in coconut oil may help “dissolve” and abrade plaque buildup on the teeth and gums and take with it any bacteria that happen to reside in the teeth. When you spit the resulting concoction out, it takes all the gunk and unwanted residents with it. This also has the effect of reducing bad breath.
Does it whiten your teeth, though? We can’t say. It doesn’t appear to do so. However, more detailed research is needed for conclusive evidence. The hallmark of quality science is the presence of multiple studies with independent peer review, and this is what the practice of oil pulling lacks. The American Dental Association (ADA) considers that there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that oil pulling is beneficial in any way, and therefore does not recommend it.
It’s important to maintain a good oral hygiene routine with proven solutions, such as regular brushing and flossing. Coconut oil pulling is not a suitable substitute for this, and it certainly won’t help whiten your teeth. In comparison, commercially available and dentist-approved products exist that show definite results. A qualified dentist will be able to point you in the right direction if the goal is to have your teeth whitened.
Mission Bend Family Dentistry specializes in creating healthy smiles for the entire family. We provide superior care that offers your family comfort and convenience through our expertise and gentle care. For any questions or to schedule a consultation, call us at (832) 895-5110.
We’d love to see you and help you achieve a smile to be proud of.