To pull or not to pull

“To pull or not to pull?” that is the question I’ve been asked a lot of lately. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic method that involves swishing a tablespoon of high-quality food oil like coconut or olive oil for 20 minutes. At the end of the process, the oil is spit into a paper towl or trash bin to avoid clogging pipes.

Health gurus claim that the pulling improves health by eliminating bacteria and microorganisms, thus reducing plaque, improving gum health, and promoting fresh breath. The cleansing method is also purported to whiten teeth and prevent cavities. Personally, it seems a little too good to be true (although a few friends swear by it). I am always in favor of pursuing holistic approaches towards health, and while the claims seem beneficial, there is not enough scientific evidence to support that the oil pulling is actually working. Most studies are based on a very small sample size (the linked studies included only 20 to 60 people), so the America Dental Association does not generally reccomend oil pulling as part of a healthy oral care routine. Oil pulling could hold some promise, but more research needs to be done to fully prove that is is both safe and effective. In the end, based on the information we have, nothing can replace brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist for the best oral health.

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