Oral health and dental care are like so many other things in the world in that they have their trends, fads, urban legends, and “woo”. While some of this is harmless and much of it is entertaining, these rumors and fads are not generally effective when it comes to preserving and enhancing your oral health.
Lately there’s been a real craze for teeth whitening using coconut oil. It’s so tempting to buy into this belief–coconut oil is widely available and fairly cheap compared to teeth whitening treatments, and the ability to effectively whiten your teeth at home would be handy indeed. However, we must sadly report that this isn’t an option. There’s no evidence that coconut oil is an effective way to whiten your teeth, and very little evidence that it helps your overall oral health. However, by taking a closer look at this particular oral health myth and its origins we can learn a bit more about where such fads come from and how to spot them in the future.
Oil Pulling, Ayurveda, and Teeth Whitening
The basis of the coconut oil/teeth whitening myth may come from a misunderstanding of a practice found within Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India which is still widely practiced across South Asia. Ayurveda makes use of a treatment called oil pulling, which involves swishing a small quantity of an edible oil around inside the mouth for a few minutes before spitting it out and rinsing with water. This is intended to clean the mouth by removing unwanted materials and toxins. Contemporary Western enthusiasts claim that oil pulling will cure any number of ailments, including headaches, asthma, gingivitis, toothache, and even diabetes while keeping your mouth clean and healthy.
Once again it’s a tempting idea, but sadly there’s no evidence at all that oil pulling accomplishes any of these things. The myth is so widespread however, that the American Dental Association has issued a statement about it, which includes the following summation of the medical reality of oil pulling:
Is oil pulling good for your mouth?
Currently, there are no reliable scientific studies to show that oil pulling reduces cavities, whitens teeth or improves oral health and well-being. Based on the lack of scientific evidence, the American Dental Association does not recommend oil pulling as a dental hygiene practice. The ADA continues to recommend that to maintain good dental health you brush twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste and floss between your teeth once a day and don’t use tobacco.
So, while oil pulling doesn’t do any harm, it won’t help your oral health either. Likewise while brushing with coconut oil is almost certainly a harmless practice, it doesn’t clean or whiten your teeth. So with that out of the way, what can you do if you want to improve the color and brilliance of your smile?
Effective, Professional Teeth Whitening
The good news is that effective teeth whitening treatments are available. Your dentist can recommend one from several options, which range from teeth whitening toothpastes and other at-home care to a professional whitening treatment in your dentist office. These are all proven to be more effective than coconut oil or other home remedies, and will give you much better results in the long run. So if you’re curious to know more about teeth whitening and how to do it safely and effectively, Queen City Dental Arts is here for you. Get in touch with us today and make an appointment to discuss your options and how we can help your smile shine!