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Does Coconut Oil Whiten Teeth?

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

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. Natural living enthusiasts have eagerly picked up the habit of oil pulling – with some swishing oil for about 20 minutes a day searching for the supposed benefits.

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. The American Dental Association (ADA) notes that there's not enough scientific evidence to prove oil pulling is beneficial to your oral health. Without reliable research and testing, the ADA can't recommend the practice of swishing with oil.

The ADA 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 ol' 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 professionals. 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!


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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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