Theriot Family Dental

Will Oil Pulling Hurt My Teeth or Whiten them?

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I received a free month of yoga as a gift from a friend. I have enjoyed the class. One unexpected thing, other than actually liking it, was the Medical Moment at the end of the class. The last class he mentioned oil pulling as a way to keep your teeth bright and healthy. He does have really white teeth, so I was wondering if this would be a good way to whiten my teeth. Will there be any harm in trying the oil pulling? I’ve not really been into this crunchy, natural lifestyle, but it is beginning to grow on me. I’ve been a bit disappointed in my smile so I’m interested to see if this could work.


Dear Ashley,

teeth whitening trays
Teeth Whitening Trays

It is great that you are open to trying new things and finding joy in them. Oil pulling has been around for a while. It’s part of the Ayurvedic Medical Philosophy that originated in India. It takes a natural, holistic approach to medicine. How the oil pulling works is the user swishes either sesame or coconut oil in their mouths and between their teeth for about 15 minutes. Then you spit it out. The theory behind it is that the oils absorb all the nasty little buggies and keep your teeth and gums healthy. You are encouraged to always brush and floss after oil pulling.

Will it harm your teeth? No. Not unless you use that in place of your regular oral hygiene care. You will still need to brush, floss, and see a dentist regularly. Without that, your oral health will go downhill, even with the oil pulling. Does it have any real benefits? Possibly. The oils may lift and loosen surface stains, which will make them easier to remove during brushing. That alone may make your smile a little brighter. However, it will not whiten your teeth.

Real teeth whitening is done in the internal structures of the tooth, not the surface. A special type of peroxide gel is used. When this sits on your teeth for a minimum of twenty minutes, it opens up the tubules and allows the whitening get to get inside the tooth where the stains reside and oxidizes them away. A tray is used to make this a completely comfortable procedure for the patient. It holds on the gel so you can get on with your life. You can do teeth whitening at your convenience and even whiten on the go. The trays are clear, so no one will know that you are whitening them while you go about your errands.

If your yogi’s teeth are as white as you say, then he has used professional teeth whitening to get them there. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t do the oil pulling. One of the benefits of science is using what works. Oil pulling works for one thing and whitening for another. You can do both and live healthy while looking and feeling beautiful.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Dr. John Theriot.