Practitioners of oil pulling claim it is capable of improving oral and whole-body health, including a benefit in conditions such as headaches, migraines, diabetes mellitus, asthma, and acne, as well as whitening teeth. Some of its promoters claim it works by "pulling out" toxins, which are known as ama in Ayurveda. There is no credible evidence to support this.
There is no high-quality research on oil pulling, no understanding of a possible mechanism explaining how it would work, and no evidence that it provides any benefit. The American Dental Association agrees that there are no reliable scientific studies supporting the practice of oil pulling for any benefit to oral hygiene or overall wellbeing. The Canadian Dental Association assessed the practice of oil pulling in 2014 stating: "We sense oil pulling won't do any harm, we're not convinced there are any particular benefits to it."
The Canadian Dental Association concluded from their assessment:
Oil pulling is a suggestive misnomer, implying that something bad is being pulled from the mouth (toxins and bacteria). What little scientific evidence exists shows that it is probably not as effective as standard mouth wash, and what benefit it has is likely entirely due to the mechanical act of swishing to remove particles and bacteria from teeth and gums ... Oil pulling for general health or any other indication is pure pseudoscience. Detox claims are based on nothing, as are all detox claims. There is no evidence or plausible rationale to recommend oil pulling for any indication other than as a poor substitute for oral care.
- King A (13 April 2018). "Bad science: Oil pulling". British Dental Journal-Nature. 224 (7): 470. doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2018.281. PMID 29651060.
- Novella, Steven (12 March 2014). "Oil Pulling Your Leg". Science Based Medicine. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
- Kensche A, Reich M, Kümmerer K, Hannig M, Hannig C (April 2013). "Lipids in preventive dentistry". Clinical Oral Investigations (Review). 17 (3): 669–85. doi:10.1007/s00784-012-0835-9. PMID 23053698.
- Gbinigie O, Onakpoya I, Spencer E, McCall MacBain M, Heneghan C (June 2016). "Effect of oil pulling in promoting oro dental hygiene: A systematic review of randomized clinical trials". Complementary Therapies in Medicine (Review). 26: 47–54. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2016.02.011. PMID 27261981.
To the best of our knowledge this is the first systematic review assessing the effect of oil pulling on oro dental hygiene. The results should be interpreted with caution because of the small number of included studies. Furthermore, the included studies were not adequately powered, and small sample sized studies could lead to misleading results
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