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The latest dental trends: Oil pulling and Activated Charcoal

Oil pulling and Activated Charcoal

Have you heard of coconut oil pulling or activated charcoal for your mouth?

This latest trend that keeps popping up all over our social media feed. We are also being asked on a regular basis by many of our patients and friends if it really works.

These alternative oral hygiene products claim many things from tooth whitening to internal health benefits. Some of the products also promote their ability to eliminate decay and gum disease. We wanted to discuss our thoughts with you from the perspective of a dental professional on these products.


Oil pulling

The practice of oil pulling consists of swishing coconut oil in the mouth for a period of 20 minutes. This idea is not a new one as it has been used in traditional Hindu medicine for over 3,000 years. Supporters of oil pulling claim that the coconut oil is able to adhere to the bacteria which cause dental decay and gum disease. It is thought that once you spit the oil out all the nasty bugs go with it therefore detoxify the mouth.

Keep in mind that oil pulling was an oral hygiene method used by humans before we had toothbrushes. Many years have been spent developing and researching modern dental products.  Modern mainstream products contain ingredients designed to disrupt harmful plaque and bacteria and strengthen tooth enamel.

There is a study however that does show oil pulling does have a slight anti-plaque effect. From our experience though, nothing beats regular brushing and flossing to prevent dental decay and gum disease.


Activated Charcoal

The thoughts behind activated charcoal as an oral hygiene product is that it can assist in tooth whitening.  The rationale given is that charcoal has a high surface area making it highly absorbent, therefore when used as a toothpaste it is able to remove unwanted stain.

Brushing with charcoal may cause dental damage as it can be highly abrasive and result in unwanted wear to the enamel. Abrasion to tooth enamel can cause other dental concerns such as chronic sensitivity and dentine exposure. Dentine is a part of the internal tooth structure and can make the tooth appear yellower if exposed.

Although charcoal may have the ability to remove surface stain it will not remove internal stains. We suggest a peroxide based whitening product as it is able to penetrate beyond the tooth surface. True whitening focuses on removing both surface and deeper staining.

With over 20 years of research it has been determined that whitening with dental peroxide is completely safe. Bleaching your teeth with a dental peroxide creates an oxidation reaction making the by-product of that reaction oxygen and water.

Our Recommendations

We suggest that if you have any concerns with your dental health or aesthetics to discuss it with us first. We are able to suggest the best dental products to suit your individual needs. It’s important to ensure you are using a fluoridated toothpaste and Brushing two times a day as this is your best chance of reducing the likelihood of dental decay. Flossing and in-between cleaners give you the best chance of managing your gum health as well.

By Ashleigh Lilly

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