Newest Celebrity Fad in Tooth Whitening: “Oil Pulling”

There have been a good number of celebrity fads that have come and gone in recent years, but this new one might just take the cake.

According to celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley, the latest and greatest way to keep your teeth white and plaque-free (and your skin clear) is to swish coconut oil around your mouth for 20 minutes at a time. The fad is called “oil pulling.”

Unfortunately, the almost-unanimous consensus among dental experts is that oil pulling is ineffective, in addition to disgusting.

The practice, which originally comes from ancient Ayurvedic Indian medicine, was thought to be a catch-all remedy for oral diseases.

According to Dr. Jennifer Akkaway, who is a dentistry specialist at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, the only effects it might possibly have are only coincidental. “It might be a good practice to do in a developing country where there isn’t access to modern dental care, but I wouldn’t recommend it over brushing. Why would you want to swish oil in your mouth for 20 minutes a day? It just doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe it does some mechanical removal of the oral debris, but if you swished your mouth with water for 20 minutes, it would do the same thing,” she said.

There have been several studies done in the Indian Journal of Dental Research, which compared it favorably to chlorhexidine mouth rinse in removing plaque, but the benefits apparently stopped there. The only reason they suspect some link is because chlorhexidine uses sesame oil in its formula as well. It is worth noting that chlorhexidine only takes 30 seconds, while oil pulling takes 20 minutes.

Even though many dental professionals have not heard of the fad yet, those that have looked into it say that oil pulling is an example of a homeopathic remedy that is slightly less effective than all available alternatives, and that if anyone is interested in whitening their teeth naturally, making a toothpaste out of baking soda is a fantastic alternative.