Coconut Oil Pulling Dangers to Consider


Oil pulling is a traditional remedy that's been practiced in southern Asia and India for centuries and has begun spreading to other parts of the world. The practice involves swishing an edible oil — such as coconut oil — around the mouth for as long as 20 minutes. People who are interested in adding coconut oil pulling to their daily routine may be wondering if there are any coconut oil pulling dangers to keep in mind. Here's where the research currently stands regarding the practice and tips for maintaining your optimal oral health.

Claims About Coconut Oil Pulling

Coconut oil pulling enthusiasts claim that the practice provides many benefits to oral health. Some claim that the oil helps remove plaque and reduces the chances of developing cavities, according to a review in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. Others claim coconut oil can whiten the teeth or act as a detox mouthwash.

The main fatty acid in coconut oil, called lauric acid, is thought to have antimicrobial properties, reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This has led some to the conclusion that swishing coconut oil in the mouth reduces the amount of decay-causing bacteria and therefore supports oral health.

Is Oil Pulling Safe?

Currently, the American Dental Association (ADA) doesn't recommend coconut oil pulling (or any other type of oil pulling) due to a lack of scientific evidence to support the practice. There aren't any reliable studies that prove oil pulling will improve oral health, whiten teeth or keep you from developing cavities.

For good dental health, the ADA continues to recommend tried-and-true brushing and flossing. To maintain a healthy mouth, brush your teeth twice per day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss once per day. Commercial mouthwashes may help supplement your oral care routine, but they're not a replacement for brushing and flossing, advises the ADA.

Potential Coconut Oil Pulling Dangers

If you choose to try oil pulling with coconut oil, be aware that you may experience unintended results. Even though coconut oil is a natural substance, you can still experience negative side effects from the practice.

Some individuals who have practiced oil pulling have reported diarrhea and upset stomach, according to a review in Dental Hypothesis. The study in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine emphasizes that it is important for individuals to choose their type of oil carefully, as some may cause an allergic reaction. Accidentally swallowing the coconut oil after swishing poses another risk because the oil is loaded with bacteria. If the coconut oil is consumed excessively, its saturated fat content may increase cholesterol levels, explains the NIH.

Replacing your existing oral hygiene routine with coconut oil pulling poses the biggest potential danger. Brushing twice per day and flossing once per day is a proven way to remove food particles and plaque from the teeth. This helps prevent cavities, gum disease and an array of other oral health concerns. People who choose to practice coconut oil pulling in lieu of brushing and flossing may develop dental problems.

Always seek the advice of your dentist before changing your oral care routine. Your dentist has the expertise and experience to guide you in the right direction to help you achieve and maintain a healthy smile.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.