Two laughing friends drinking from coconuts on a sandy beach

Does Coconut Oil Whiten Your Teeth?

If you're interested in natural remedies and organic products, you're probably familiar with the practice of oil pulling. This involves swishing a teaspoon or so of edible oil (usually coconut) around your mouth as a way to care for your teeth.

Some claim 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 really whiten teeth?" It turns out that oil probably won't offer you significant oral benefits. We'll tell you why – but first, a little history.

What's the Origin of Oil Pulling?

The practice of oil pulling dates back to India and Ayurvedic traditional medicine, which promoted oil pulling for many ailments – including oral health. The idea is that as you swish and pull the oil through your mouth, it removes bacteria that can lead to plaque and gingivitis. Some claim that the practice also results in whiter teeth and decreased sensitivity.

With more and more people seeking natural remedies for a healthier body, oil pulling is one that crops up in dental hygiene topics. To get the benefits most users report swishing the oil around like a mouthwash for 20 minutes to collect bacteria before spitting it out, repeating the process several times a week.

Because oil pulling has such a pull (pardon the pun) on people, scientific studies have picked up on determining its merits.

Is There Scientific Proof That Oil Pulling Whitens Teeth?

Look to the experts if you're wondering if coconut oil is the solution for teeth whitening. While oil-pulling is attracting much attention, a lack of long-term scientific studies of its validity exist and recent reports from Harvard, Columbia and Cornell, all question the validity of the claims of health benefits derived from coconut oil according to an Ontario Dental Association article. Without reliable research and testing, the ODA can't recommend the practice of swishing with oil.

The ODA received backup in a systematic review specifically on coconut oil pulling and oral hygiene published in the scientific journal Heliyon. The scientific review concluded that it's "difficult to determine whether oil pulling with coconut oil has an actual beneficial effect."

What Teeth-Whitening Solutions Work?

What's been proven to get teeth in dazzling shape if there's no conclusive evidence that coconut oil whitens teeth? Below are the many ways you can make your teeth whiter at home or in the dentist's office.

At-Home Whitening

Effective over-the-counter whitening products contain natural products, like baking soda or xylitol. However, many use the super-effective bleaching agents hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide – applied in varying degrees depending on the product.

Some products come with LED light to further activate whitening your teeth. Home whitening products include:

  • Toothpaste: Ensure the toothpaste you buy contains fluoride. Use during your twice-daily brushing.
  • Mouthwash: Use when you rinse your mouth daily.
  • Strips: Follow the package directions to apply the strips containing a thin layer of a bleaching agent to your teeth.
  • Pen: Perfect for when you're on the go, you can use this pen to whiten your teeth any time.
  • Gel Trays: Available where dental products are sold, these trays are best used at home by following the package directions.

In-Office Whitening

Talk to your dentist about professional in-office whitening for a brilliant smile. Among the options are:

  • Customized Tooth-Whitening Gel Trays: The customized trays can be more effective and better at protecting your gums than the over-the-counter trays. And if you prefer, you can use them at home.
  • Bleaching Gel and Laser Combo: Though delivering the most effective results, the out-of-pocket costs might not be in your budget. But the procedure might be worth it to you.

Discuss all options with your dental professional. Whatever option you choose, using fluoridated whitening toothpaste as part of your regular oral care regimen can keep your teeth white.

Oil pulling might be popular in some circles, but in the end, its whitening and oral health benefits are inconclusive. If you really want whitening results, rely on the ingredients that have been proven to work. And then show off your whiter, brighter teeth to the world!