Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that is accomplished by swishing a tablespoon of oil – typically coconut oil – around the teeth and gums for 15 to 30 minutes a day. Proponents of oil pulling tout benefits including a reduced risk of cavities and gum disease, a freshening of the breath, and whiter teeth.
Theoretically, gargling with coconut oil pulls out toxins, helping keep both the mouth and body healthier. Some evidence supports this claim. However, as far as tooth whitening goes, there is little to no clinical evidence suggesting coconut oil is effective. As it stands now, claims that coconut oil can remove stains from teeth are purely anecdotal and should not be considered reliable.
Does this mean that oil pulling is useless? Not at all. In fact, there is mounting evidence that it has some oral health benefits. Significantly whitening teeth is just not likely to be among those.
Surface Stains vs. Deep Stains
There are two primary types of tooth stains:
- Extrinsic (surface)
- Intrinsic (below the enamel)
Extrinsic stains are most often caused by foods, beverages, and lifestyle choices like tobacco use. Barring nicotine stains, extrinsic discoloration is best removed through topical teeth whitening solutions. Dr. Phelps offers both in-office and take-home tooth whitening options at our Indianapolis office and would be happy to sit down with you, discuss both of these choices, and help you select the right one for your smile.
Intrinsic stains are most often caused by aging, illness, fluorosis, or certain medications. These stains respond best to cosmetic services like porcelain veneers or tooth bonding. These options cover teeth as opposed to bleaching them and can be used alone or in combination with topical solutions to produce optimal results. During your initial consultation, Dr. Phelps will examine your teeth to identify the types of stain present and help you determine which options will best meet your needs.
Choosing Professional Care
Will oil pulling whiten teeth? Maybe to an extent. But if you want reliable results, your best bet is professional teeth whitening from Dr. Phelps.
In-office whitening can lighten teeth up to ten shades within one hour. Professional-strength take-home kits can accomplish similar results within three to four weeks. Both of these options will, undoubtedly, produce a brighter smile and remain a more reliable option than any of the “whiten your teeth at home” methods that can be found on the internet.
Remember, homeopathic and DIY teeth whitening techniques may remove some surface staining but they can also be incredibly dangerous. For example, gargling with apple cider vinegar can damage enamel, brushing with activated charcoal can expose underlying dentin and increase tooth sensitivity, gargling with hydrogen peroxide can cause severe tooth pain and increase risks for black hairy tongue. These risks are simply not worth the minimal results certain DIY teeth whitening solutions produce. If you are serious about tooth whitening, the best options come from trusted dental professionals.
If you live in Indianapolis or surrounding areas of Indiana and are considering tooth whitening, please call Dr. John R. Phelps at 317-818-9858 to schedule a consultation today.