Oil pulling for mouth lesions?

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DEAR DR. GOTT: I just read your column about the woman with mouth ulcers, and I believe I have come across a little-known cure for just about all diseases of the mouth. Oil pulling! It works great and is not bad tasting, depending on the type of oil one uses.

I was diagnosed with advanced periodontal disease several years ago and was told to prepare myself for dentures because my teeth couldn’t be saved. I read an article in a magazine that my chiropractor gave me about oil pulling and did a little more research. Because I had nothing to lose, I started doing it every day, sometimes twice a day, and in less than a year, my periodontal disease has disappeared, my gums are healthy, and my teeth are clean and white.

I just had a full dental exam, and my dentist said he has never seen anything like it. For anyone with dental problems, I would recommend oil pulling. Information can be found at oilpulling.com or numerous other websites. It lists a lot of other claims of what oil pulling can do, but I believe most are unfounded other than for oral hygiene. Your thoughts?

DEAR READER: Before your letter, I had not heard of oil pulling, the act of swishing a teaspoon or so of oil in the mouth for up to 20 minutes a day. This is followed by normal tooth brushing. The website you listed does indeed list a plethora of conditions that oil pulling can help or cure and being skeptical, I looked for other scientific resources. I found two particularly interesting publications, both in Indian dental journals.

Two of the authors are the same for each publication, and all were part of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at Meenakshi Ammal Dental College.

The first study was a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study that looked at the effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans in plaque and saliva. One group used oil pulling (with sesame oil) for 10 minutes every day before brushing, and the control group used chlorhexidine mouthwash for 10 minutes every day before brushing. The authors found that both groups had significant reductions of the S. mutans and concluded that oil pulling could be effectively used as a preventive adjunct in maintaining and improving oral health.

The second study was also a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study that looked at the effects of oil pulling on plaque-induced gingivitis. Again, one group used sesame oil and oil pulling, and the other used chlorhexidine mouthwash. The authors found that both groups showed significant reduction in plaque and modified gingival index scores. They also found that there was a reduction in the total colony count of aerobic microorganisms. Again, they concluded that oil pulling was as effective as the control mouthwash.

Essentially, both studies showed that oil pulling with sesame oil for 10 minutes every day before brushing was as effective as a prescription oral rinse used to treat gingivitis. These were small studies with a total of 20 participants in each.

If you had success with oil pulling, stick with it. I don’t believe it can cause any harm and may be beneficial. Other readers, if you have had any experience with oil pulling, please let me know your results.

Because you seem to be interested in alternative remedies, I am sending you copies of my Health Reports “Dr. Gott’s Compelling Home Remedies” and “More Compelling Home Remedies.” Other readers who would like copies should send a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and a $2 check or money order for each report to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title(s) or print an order form off my website at www.AskDrGottMD.com.

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