Does Oil Pulling Prevent Gum Disease?
This is a multi-part series of articles answering the question: Does Oil Pulling Really Work? This articles addresses the Oil Pulling Claim: Does Oil Pulling Prevent Gum Disease?
In this article we will research and attempt to find existing studies and/or believable sources that answer or contradict the question Does Oil Pulling Prevent Gum Disease?
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In this article from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, it describes how Gum Disease occurs.
- Bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, constantly form a sticky, colorless “plaque” on teeth.
- The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they are. The bacteria causes inflammation of the gums that is “gingivitis.”
- When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to “periodontitis” (which means “inflammation around the tooth”). In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called “pockets”) that become infected.
Now that we know what causes gum disease, we can look for how scientists are testing if various types of oil pulling can prevent gum disease.
Who Says Oil Pulling Prevents Gum Disease?
We found the following sources of people that claim that the answer is YES to the question Does Oil Pulling Prevent Gum Disease?
These are just a few of the sites making this claim. There are many more out there.
The folks at Grow Youthful provide a long list and say the following about this list:
Oil pulling is a natural traditional remedy for these ailments
The list entry that says that Oil Pulling is a remedy for gum disease, reads “Gum diseases, gingivitis, receding gums”.
They include a separate page that lists “Gum Diseases” as an “Ailment”. And, below it lists “Oil Pulling” as the “Remedy”.
Several people have posted on this page talking about their experiences with oil pulling having cured their gum disease.
Most of the people that commented talked about using Coconut Oil. Over a dozen mention using Coconut Oil.
One person mentioned having tried “olive oil” and “groundnut or rice bran oil”. And, once having even used “mustard seed oil”. But, that the mustard seed oil had stained his teeth yellow.
Dr. Jessica T. Emery D.M.D. writes this article that discusses some of the benfits of oil pulling.
While she talks about sesame and sunflower oils. She primary recommends using Coconut Oil for oil pulling. She believes Coconut Oil is high in lauric acid. And, that this makes it a much better substance to use to fight the bacteria and inflamations that are found in your mouth.
In this article Dr. Emery concludes:
As you work (swish) the oil around in your mouth, it
sucks up bacteria and toxins. It helps decrease chance of gum
disease, bad breath and bleeding gums.
Dr. Axe Food is Medicine
Dr. Axe has a web site that talks about various ways that food can affect your body in similar ways that medicine affects your body.
In an article about Coconut Oil Pulling, Dr. Axe states:
Coconut oil pulling is one of the best ways to remove
bacteria and promote healthy teeth and gums!
Dr. Axe goes on later in the article to produce a list of Coconut Oil pulling benefits. The list is described as “This unbelievably effective procedure has been used for centuries as a traditional India remedy to:”. Then, in the list is this claim:
- Heals bleeding gums
- Strengthens gums and jaw
Dr. Axe definately answers Yes to the question Does Oil Pulling Prevent Gum Disease?
Who Says Oil Pulling Does NOT Prevents Gum Disease?
While there are many that try to make this claim. There are some that do disagree.
Ask The Dentist Disagrees
The folks at Ask The Dentist have the following to say about this claim:
If done daily, oil pulling could remove some tooth
staining and reduce plaque and bacteria, but
not enough to prevent gum disease.
The folks at Jezabel interviewed several people on vaious oil pulling topics.
In an interview with a Dr. Sanda Moldovan where she said this about Oil pulling:
“It should not be used for people with gum disease, Moldovan stressed.
Or they are going to end up losing their teeth”
Oil Pulling Prevents Gum Disease Proof
Our research into actual studies on this topic found the following.
PubMed.gov Cites A Study
PubMed.gov cites the results of a test performed on 60 children between the ages of 16 and 18.
Their results showed:
A statistically significant decrease in the plaque and gingival
indices was noticed from day 7 and the scores continued
to decrease during the period of study.
This study concluded that oil pulling using Coconut Oil “could be an effective adjuvant procedure in decreasing plaque formation and plaque induced gingivitis”.
Faizal C. Peedikayil, Prathima Sreenivasan, Arun Narayanan
Niger Med J. 2015 Mar-Apr; 56(2): 143–147. doi: 10.4103/0300-1652.153406
PubMed.gov Cites a Triple Blind Study
PubMed.gov also cites another study where the study separates 20 boys into two groups. One oil pulling group (Group I) and one control or chlorhexidine group (Group II). Each group had 10 subjects.
The oil pulling group tests with sesame seed oil. The control group is given chlorhexidine mouthwash.
The groups were measured for the “collection of plaque for measuring the colony count of the aerobic microorganisms” before and after a 10 day period of testing.
The conclusions of the study were:
The oil pulling therapy showed a reduction in the plaque index,
modified gingival scores, and total colony count of aerobic microorganisms
in the plaque of adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis
Citation: Asokan S, Emmadi P, Chamundeswari R. Effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2009 [cited 2016 Oct 30];20:47-51. Available from: http://www.ijdr.in/text.asp?2009/20/1/47/49067.
Indian Journal of Dental Research
The Indian Journal of Dental Research provides access to a study called “Mechanism of oil-pulling therapy -In vitro study”.
This study was carried out in three phases. The oil used was sesame seed oil.
The first two phases studied how sesame seed oil reacted when mixed with liquids from the mouth.
The third phase tests liquid that was is swished in a person’s mouth.
The study came to the following conclusion:
Conclusion: The myth that the effect of oil-pulling therapy on oral
health was just a placebo effect has been broken and there are clear
indications of possible saponification and emulsification process,
which enhances its mechanical cleaning action.
Citation: Asokan S, Rathinasamy T K, Inbamani N, Menon T, Kumar S S, Emmadi P, Raghuraman R. Mechanism of oil-pulling therapy –In vitro study. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2011 [cited 2016 Oct 31];22:34-7. Available from: http://www.ijdr.in/text.asp?2011/22/1/34/79971
Which Oils Prevent Gum Disease the Best?
During our research we found that different oils were mentioned. And, that each provided different results.
People only mention a few times that Sesame Oil is the answer to the question Does Oil Pulling Prevent Gum Disease?
So, the claims were few. And, even those that mentioned sesame oil, didn’t seem convinced that sesame oil was helping.
However, sesame oil did get one significant boost from the scientific community with the PubMed.gov study that specificially uses sesame oil. And, those results concluded that sesame oil was providing an effective way to reduce the bacteria that contributes to gum disease.
Sunflower oil was mentioned once or twice. But, doesn’t appear to be used very often.
So, there is really only anecdotal reports of sunflower oil being used specifically for controlling gum disease.
Our guess is that it likely does help. But, that the taste is not as good as coconut oil or sesame Oil. If you decide to give sunflower oil a try, come back and give us your feedback.
Coconut Oil is by far the most used oil for oil pulling. We found about 10x number of anecdotal reports from individuals that commented on articles that were making claims for oil pulling.
We were also able to find scientific studies that specifically studied the effects of coconut oil. And, the scientific studies reported postive results.
Conclusions about Does Oil Pulling Prevent Gum Disease?
We believe enough scientific evidence exists that shows that oil pulling does effectively combat gum disease by reducing the plaque that causes gingivitis.
In our findings, coconut oil is the “oil of choice” for the lay person. Probably because the taste is much more palatable.
Sesame seed oil seems to be used as often as coconut oil in scientific testing.
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Hopfully, you have found our research useful and that it also convinces you about the claim Does Oil Pulling Prevent Gum Disease?
CLAIM RESULT: Fact