March 14, 2014 6:57 pm
Updated: March 18, 2014 11:12 am

U of S college of dentistry skeptical about new ‘oil pulling’ trend

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Watch the video above: Does ‘oil pulling’ really improve your oral health?

SASKATOON – It’s the latest health fad to be making the rounds on social media. Oil pulling – the  ancient Indian practice of gargling oil to cleanse the body and mouth of toxins.

At Sangster’s Organic Market in Saskatoon, owner Julie Sylvester has seen a 70 per cent jump in coconut oil sales over the last week ever since oil pulling hit social media.

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“It could be a fad but it might work, it might not. I can’t really say if it works or not,” said Sylvester.

So Julie gave it a try, putting coconut oil in her mouth and using it basically like mouthwash. Although she didn’t do it for the recommended 20 minutes, she admits it wasn’t as uncomfortable as she first thought it would be.

“Actually it wasn’t the bad but definitely I used half a teaspoon and it wasn’t enough but it actually felt kinda nice so definitely going to try it every day, see if it works out so maybe I’ll have whiter teeth and fresher breath by the end of it.”

Social media sites also claim that oil pulling can prevent plaque build-up and treat gum disease.

“I think just because it’s ancient and just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s necessarily effective,” said Ken Sutherland, acting dean for the college of dentistry at the University of Saskatchewan.

“As scientists we need to look at not what the claims are but what the actual results are and to-date while there is modest implications that it may dismiss some of the bacteria inter-orally many of the claims at this point are unproven.”

Sutherland says although oil pulling doesn’t appear to be harmful.

“Rinsing edible oil in your mouth shouldn’t cause any problems as long as you don’t swallow a significant amount of it or not personally harmful but it’s not a good idea to spit it in your sinks or toilets and plug them up with oil but I don’t think there’s any indication that there’s any significant harm.”

Whether or not it works for you, dentists stress this practice should not replace good oral hygiene.

“This particular technique, oil pulling is recommended 10 to 20 minutes a day, if you spend half that time brushing and flossing your teeth we have proven scientific, positive effects for doing that,” said Sutherland.

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