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TikTok's Oil Pulling Challenge: Is It Really Effective?

A woman in front of a white background with her cheeks puffed out

Have you heard about the latest buzz around “oil pulling” on TikTok? Traditional oil pulling from Ayurvedic medicine has recently come into vogue as a way to improve dental health. Supposedly, this method can promote oral hygiene and detoxification by swishing oil around in the mouth.  

However, how does it stack up against the findings of contemporary dentistry research? Let’s find out!

So, what is oil pulling?

Oil pulling, a practice aimed at eliminating bacteria and boosting saliva production, involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth, typically in the morning for a maximum of twenty minutes. It’s widely known on TikTok for it’s movement in helping to kill bacteria and increase saliva production. Some people have even seen results with a reduction in gum inflammation (gingivitis). It’s important to note that because of the bacteria it contains, it is not recommended to drink the oil after it turns thin and milky.

Research on oil pulling has yielded mixed results. Some studies suggest benefits like reduced Streptococcus mutans levels – a bacteria linked to tooth decay – and decreased severity of gingivitis when using coconut oil. Olive oil is another popular choice due to its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Despite these findings, the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) remains skeptical, not endorsing oil pulling as a replacement for conventional oral care practices.

Is oil pulling safe?

While oil pulling is generally safe, some may experience jaw soreness or headaches due to the motion. Swallowing the oil could lead to digestive upset and is not recommended.

It’s important to remember that oil pulling shouldn't replace brushing and flossing. Regular dental care, including a balanced diet, fluoride toothpaste, fluoridated water, and if needed, a dentist-recommended mouth rinse, is key to maintaining oral health.

Additional research is necessary to confirm the effectiveness and safety of oil pulling, but it is an interesting approach with some possible advantages according to the Canadian Dental association. It is important to talk to a dentist before making any modifications to your routine for oral health, as is the case with any natural therapy.

Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider for any questions regarding your oral health. Schedule your visit at either of our St. Vital or Garden City Locations.

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