Why is Oil Pulling a Waste of Time?

It simply astounds me how blindly people accept “natural” remedies without any proof except personal testimonials, all while they proclaim that “real science” has been co-opted by greedy individuals and companies. The current fad of “Oil Pulling” is certainly one of the biggest examples of snake oil holistic mumbo-jumbo quackery to grace the surface of our planet.  Why?  Because it’s JUNK, people!  And if there’s one thing that really ticks me off, it’s JUNK MEDICINE and JUNK SCIENCE.

Coconut Oil is Just Fat, People!

That’s it.  Right there.  That’s the reason that oil pulling can not “heal” or reverse cavities, why it can’t whiten your teeth, and why it can’t cure gum disease.  Because IT’S JUST FAT!

When analysed, here’s what’s in coconut oil:

coconut oil pulling is useless because it's just fat

Got that?  It’s mostly saturated fats with a little bit of unsaturated fats and a little bit of other stuff.  If you look at the link above, there’s also a comparison with other types of oils, and the only one with a higher saturated fat content is cottonseed oil.

Now, would someone who believes that coconut oil is a miracle solution for the mouth tell me how all that miracle stuff is done by FAT?  Because fat does not kill bacteria.  It doesn’t harden enamel.  It doesn’t get down under the gums and get rid of tartar (calculus).  So please…explain how it “cures” cavities or gum disease.  I’m waiting, but I won’t hold my breath.

Claims of “Toxins” Being “Pulled Out”

There is no known process by which fats “pull” so-called toxins out of your body, but that’s the claim that gets made.  So why can’t people explain how that’s supposed to happen?  I mean, if you’re going to make that claim, shouldn’t you be able to explain it at least a little bit?  Same about those alleged “toxins” that are supposedly being “pulled out – every time I ask someone exactly which toxins are being pulled out, no one can ever tell me!  So if you don’t know what they are, and you don’t know how it happens, how do you know anything is actually happening?!?!?  (Please pardon all the extra exclamation marks and question marks; I’m trying to express my frustration with this nonsense.)  So all you’re doing for those 20 minutes is swishing FAT around your mouth.

Let’s Look at the Research

Well, actually, Science-Based Medicine already did an article on this, including a look at the research that supposedly supports oil pulling, so here’s the link to Oil Pulling Your Leg.  The basic recap is that the only possible explanation of any minimal effectiveness by oil pulling is that 20 minutes of swishing something thick and viscous will probably help remove loose plaque from your teeth.  Alternately, you can get the same results or better by brushing correctly for 2 minutes, flossing for 1 minutes, and rinsing with chlorhexidine for 1 minute.  Voila!  Just saved you 16 minutes!  You’re welcome.  😀

If It Sounds Too Good to Be True…

We all know this old saying, right? “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  There’s a lot of good social learning that went into that saying, and it amazes me that, amidst all the glamour of the “old days when people knew things because of experience and not because science said so,” people have forgotten the truth of this saying.  People learned the hard way from snake-oil salesman that there’s really no such thing as a “miracle cure.”  And that’s what modern-day scam artists are selling with coconut oil, or any other kind of oil.  After all, Orac wrote on his blog, Respectful Insolence,  back in 2007 about the nonsense made in the claims made about various oils.  I even wrote about the kinds of claims in my article a few years ago: Holistic, Alternative Medicine is Usually Wrong.

So please……just brush and floss correctly.  Use non-alcohol based mouthrinse, preferably with fluoride.  See your dentist twice a year for checkups and dental hygiene, with dental x-rays taken at appropriate frequencies based on your risk of decay.  And forget about oil pulling, because it’s only fat!

About the Author:

My profession and passion are one and the same: I've been a Charlotte dentist since 1999, and if you're in need of a dental office, we'll gladly welcome you. We offer most of the most modern technology available and a unique and broad combination of services. We know the dentist isn't the most fun place to be, but we try to make it the best possible, and since I truly love my job, we aim to offer the best dental care possible.