Dentist weighs in on "oil pulling" trend - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dentist weighs in on "oil pulling" trend

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WATERLOO (KWWL) - Articles shared on social media sites claim "oil pulling" with coconut oil whitens teeth, prevents cavities and even removes toxins from the body.

Area dentists tell KWWL their patients have been asking them about the trend frequently and want to know whether it works.

"There is no research to indicate the effectiveness of oil pulling," said Beau Beecher, dentist and co-owner at Kimball & Beecher Family Dentistry in Waterloo.

Beecher said he knows many people who practice "oil pulling," where they take a teaspoon to tablespoon of coconut oil and swoosh it around in their mouths, similar to mouthwash, for 20 minutes once or twice a day.

He said the practice of "oil pulling" was first reported in the U.S. by naturopathic doctors in 2008, but he hadn't heard about it until about six months ago.

"It is simple. It is safe. It is easy to try at home," he said, adding there are no known side effects to "oil pulling."

According to Beecher, the viscosity of coconut oil lends itself well to pulling the plaque off teeth.

He said even though no studies have been done to prove the effectiveness, swishing a teaspoon of it in your mouth certainly can't hurt.

"I think it's a wonderful thing for everyone to try, but a word of caution -- start small," he said. "The recommended dosage is between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. The texture can be overwhelming. It can make someone gag. It can make somebody nauseous."

Beecher also recommended people who practice "oil pulling" brush and floss their teeth after spitting out the oil to remove any residue.

"If in fact the oil is removing toxic bacteria, viruses, and funguses from your mouth, all those organisms are swimming in the oil," he said. "You want to expectorate that -- or spit that out -- not into a sink, not into a toilet, but into a garbage."

Additionally, Beecher said the practice of "oil pulling" should not replace general oral hygiene, and people should still see their dentists for check-ups at least twice a year.
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