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Does Coconut Oil Whiten Teeth?

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If you're interested in natural remedies and organic products, you've probably heard all about the practice of oil pulling. Oil pulling requires you to use a teaspoon or so of an edible oil (usually coconut) to swish around the mouth as a way to care for your teeth. Some claim that coconut oil offers benefits like healthier gums, plaque removal and even whiter teeth. But before you make oil pulling part of your morning routine, it's important to ask, "Does coconut oil whiten teeth?" As it turns out, oil probably won't offer you significant oral benefits. Here's why.

Oil Pulling Origin

The practice of oil pulling dates back hundreds of years in South Asian and Indian medicine, according to a study published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. Both cultures consider oil a healthy ingredient for body tissue, and the idea is that as the oil is swished and pulled through your mouth, it's removing the bacteria that can lead to plaque and gingivitis. Some claim that the practice has led to whiter teeth and decreased sensitivity.

With more and more people seeking natural remedies for a healthier body, oil pulling is one of those remedies that crops up in dental hygiene topics. Natural living enthusiasts have eagerly picked up the habit of oil pulling, with some swishing oil for up to 30 minutes a day in search of the supposed benefits.

Scientific Proof

If you're asking "Does coconut oil whiten teeth?" you should know that the American Dental Association (ADA) notes that there is not enough scientific evidence to prove oil pulling is beneficial to your oral health at all. Without reliable research and testing, the ADA cannot recommend the practice. At best, swishing with oil is ineffective. 

Other Solutions

Why head to the specialty food store for a jar of coconut oil when the best whitening products are found in your drugstore? Brushing with a hydrogen peroxide whitening toothpaste like Colgate Optic White Express White may whiten your teeth in as few as three days. Or, if you're looking for instant whitening, you can talk to your dentist about professional methods that he or she can complete in-office to get the bright smile you want.

Oil pulling might be popular in some circles, but in the end, its whitening and oral health benefits are untested and unlikely to compare with methods that have been properly researched. If you really want whitening results, rely on the ingredients that have been proven to work and you won't have to add more time and effort to your oral care routine.