15

There's a good deal of information about "oil pulling" which is the process by which you swish oil around your mouth for 20 minutes or so then spit it out. There are many claims about what it can heal, one of which has been asked about here. More believable claims revolve around tooth and oral health. Of particular note, is coconut oil, which is often the subject and oil of choice when the practice is discussed.

People that “oil pull” state that it has helped whiten their teeth, alleviate halitosis, and even reduce gingivitis. In many cases, people also claim that it helps “prevent” cavities, as well as relieve gum and tooth sensitivity.
- dentistryiq.com

Others have suggested that coconut oil toothpaste makes for a powerful and natural alternative to traditional toothpaste.

They found that enzyme-modified coconut oil strongly inhibits the growth of most strains of Streptococcus bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans, an acid-producing bacterium that is a major cause of tooth decay. It is thought that the breaking down of the fatty coconut oil by the enzymes turns it into acids, which are toxic to certain bacteria.
- mercola.com

So, I would like to know what studies exist for coconut oil specifically, whether used whole, "enzyme treated", or otherwise, that demonstrate its effectiveness in promoting oral health.

  • 2
    I can't imagine swishing oil for 20 minutes. – Carcigenicate Jun 20 '16 at 18:51
6

Effects of coconut oil on oral health:

  1. A 2016 study showed coconut oil pulling to be a safe and effective alternative to Chlorhexidine mouthwash since there was a significant reduction in Streptococcus mutans count.

Conclusion: Oil pulling can be explored as a safe and effective alternative to Chlorhexidine. Clinical significance: Edible oil-pulling therapy is natural, safe and has no side effects. Hence, it can be considered as a preventive therapy at home to maintain oral hygiene. Source: The Effect of Coconut Oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans Count in Saliva in Comparison with Chlorhexidine Mouthwash

  1. Coconut oil has good antimicrobial activity due to a compound called monolaurin. A 2015 study mentioned below showed that oil pulling using coconut oil helped in reduction of plaque formation and plaque induced gingivitis.

Studies show that coconut oil also has substantial antimicrobial activity. This is attributed to the presence of monolaurin in coconut oil. It is shown to have significant antimicrobial activity against Escherichia vulneris, Enterobcater spp., Helicobacter pylori, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida spp., including C. albicans, C. glabrata, C. tropicalis, C. parapsilosis, C. stellatoidea and C. krusei7,28 Studies also show that coconut oil is affective against S. mutans and C. albicans in an in vitro oral biofilm model. Source: Effect of oil gum massage therapy on common pathogenic oral microorganisms - A randomized controlled trial.

  1. Research by scientists at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) in 2012 found that digested coconut oil was able to affect the bacteria that caused tooth decay.

They found that enzyme-modified coconut oil strongly inhibited the growth of most strains of Streptococcus bacteria including Streptococcus mutans – an acid-producing bacterium that is a major cause of tooth decay. The researchers suggest that enzyme-modified coconut oil has potential as a marketable antimicrobial which could be of particular interest to the oral healthcare industry. AIT researchers show coconut oil could combat tooth decay

TL;DR: As of 2015, more studies are needed to confirm the efficacy of coconut oil on oral health.

Nevertheless, studies which have observed the oral health effect or antimicrobial effect of these oils on the oral microorganisms are limited. No research has been conducted to assess the effects of coconut oil and olive oil on bacteria causing dental caries or on oral health. More studies on the antimicrobial potency of coconut oil on microorganisms causing oral diseases is required to authenticate the use of coconut oil as an effective oral antimicrobial agent. Source: Effect of oil gum massage therapy on common pathogenic oral microorganisms - A randomized controlled trial

  • Thank you. Good stuff so far. Anything on toothpaste with coconut oil as the base, meaning the stuff is used with brushing and not in conjunction with typical toothpaste? What about what Mercola called "enzyme-modified"? – fredsbend Jun 16 '16 at 20:26
  • @fredsbend-Added information, however its still under study! – pericles316 Jun 17 '16 at 6:23
  • Wow, the authors of the first study draw big conclusions about safety and the lack of side effects from a small study (~20 subjects in the treatment group). Combined with an appeal to the naturalistic fallacy, my skeptical senses are tingling. – Oddthinking Jun 17 '16 at 14:46
  • @Oddthinking The Conclusion is exactly: "Oil pulling can be explored as a safe and effective alternative to Chlorhexidine." The Cincical Significance is: "Edible oil-pulling therapy is natural, safe and has no side effects. Hence, it can be considered as a preventive therapy at home to maintain oral hygiene." Not the same thing. The OP further tells us this at the end of his post as well. More study is needed, but the study we have is favorable. – fredsbend Jun 17 '16 at 15:07
  • @fredsbend: I think Pericles316 has accurately summarised the findings of the paper. However, I believe the authors of the paper have overstated the conclusions they can draw from their own data. The authors of the paper claim it is safe and has no side effects. Twenty people isn't enough to draw that conclusion. The authors of the paper claim it is "natural". That is a meaningless term. – Oddthinking Jun 17 '16 at 15:19
-1

Check out these articles I found:

Also check this Google scholar search query: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=oil+pulling&btnG=&as_sdt=1%2C5&as_sdtp=

I would also like to comment on the accuraccy of mercola.com ,[An article about it]. The author appears to have had several FDA warnings for promoting quack alternative medicine.One of them.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • The question is about coconut oil, the PMC paper provided by you talks about oil pulling with sesame or sunflower oil. – pericles316 Jun 16 '16 at 7:51
  • 6
    And please do not just post links. StackExchange posts should be self-contained. Quote the essential parts in your question, add the links for 'further reading'. – Jan Doggen Jun 16 '16 at 7:59
  • Thank you for the answer. Though Mercola may have received warnings, I didn't ask about the veracity of his site. It's too common that sites like this fall prey to the genetic fallacy. yourlogicalfallacyis.com/genetic – fredsbend Jun 16 '16 at 16:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .