Does Oil Pulling Whiten Teeth?


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, fresh breath, and whiter teeth.

Advocates of this practice claim is that gargling with coconut oil pulls out toxins, helping keep both the mouth and body healthier. But this is theoretical at best. As it stands now, claims that coconut oil can remove stains from teeth are purely anecdotal and should not be considered reliable.

Why Doesn’t Oil Pulling Whiten Teeth?

Simply put, there’s no scientific evidence to support the claim that it does. Clinical studies have not shown that oil pulling will make your teeth whiter. In fact, the term “oil pulling” itself is misleading, because it implies that the coconut oil “pulls” toxins out of your mouth. There is no evidence to support that claim, either.

Does Coconut Oil Have Any Oral Health Benefits?

Studies have shown that coconut oil can kill harmful bacteria in your mouth. Coconut oil contains a fatty acid called lauric acid. A study by the American Society for Microbiology showed that lauric acid is effective at killing bacteria that cause bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease.

Lauric acid is particularly effective against  bacteria which cause nasty fungal infections in your mouth and  which cause tooth decay. So coconut oil may not whiten your teeth, but it can help prevent further decay and yellowing. That being said, coconut oil is not as effective at accomplishing these goals as antibacterial mouthwashes are.

What About Other DIY Teeth Whiteners, Such as Activated Charcoal?

Keep activated charcoal as far away from your teeth as possible. As with coconut oil, there is a total lack of evidence that brushing your teeth with activated charcoal toothpaste has a whitening effect.

There is, however, substantial evidence that activated charcoal can damage your teeth. It is so abrasive that it can scrape away your enamel. Once your enamel is gone, it never comes back. Scraping it away exposes the soft, yellow tissue underneath called dentin. This makes you more susceptible to tooth decay, as well as more sensitive to hot and cold.

Leave Teeth Whitening to the Professionals

There is no substitute for professional teeth whitening. Dr. John R. Phelps is a cosmetic dentist with nearly 30 years of teeth-whitening experience. In-office whitening from Dr. Phelps can lighten teeth up to ten shades within one hour. He can also give you professional-strength take-home kits that can accomplish similar results within three to four weeks.

Professional teeth whitening solutions will produce a brighter smile and remain a more reliable option than any of the DIY teeth-whitening methods that can be found on the internet. It’s important to remember that the bloggers and influencers who push DIY teeth whitening are not doctors who spent years studying dentistry. They haven’t put those products through clinical trials or academic studies. Don’t mess around with your oral health. It’s best to work with an experienced cosmetic dentist who can provide predictable, effective results that are proven to be safe for your teeth.

Schedule Your Teeth Whitening Consultation Today

Dr. Phelps can help restore your brilliant, white smile in as little as one session. He serves Carmel, Noblesville, and surrounding areas of Indianapolis. Call 317-793-6133 today to set up a consultation.

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