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.