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Everyone’s Talking About: Oil Pulling

Helen Foster16 Jun 2014
Everyone’s Talking About: Oil Pulling

If your friends are turning up late for morning appointments, they could be trying this hot new health trend that sees them swishing, sucking and gargling a spoonful of oils like sesame or coconut around their mouths for up to 20 minutes before brushing.

Helps stop tooth decay

The theory is that as you swish the oil attracts bacteria in the mouth responsible for problems like bad breath and tooth decay – but also potentially those associated with colds, sore throats etc.

It’s not a new idea; Oil pulling has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, but it’s surged in popularity after Hollywood actress Shailene Woodley (star of the Divergent films) started talking about it in interviews recently as a way to whiten teeth – Gwyneth Paltrow is also a fan.

It’s now so popular in the US that dentists in some areas are even issuing guidance to advice to their members as to what it can and can’t do! Fact is, there are some small studies showing it works – in trials at India’s Meenakshi Ammal Dental College pulling using sesame oil was deemed as effective as the mouthwash chlorhexidine at fighting bad breath , they also found evidence that it may help fight mild gum inflammation – but there’s no evidence to show that it actually cures tooth decay or gum disease once they’ve set in – or any of the other proposed benefits.

If you want to try it though, experts say it won’t do any harm if you heed one warning. You must be careful not to inhale the oil. There’s a condition called lipid pneumonia that can occur if oils enter the lungs. You don’t want that.

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