Q: Does Coconut Oil Whiten Teeth?
A: If you're interested in natural remedies and organic products, you've probably heard all about the practice of oil pulling. Oil pulling requires you to use a teaspoon or so of an edible oil (usually coconut) to swish around the mouth as a way to care for your teeth. Some claim that coconut oil offers benefits like healthier gums, plaque removal and even whiter teeth. But before you make oil-pulling part of your morning routine, it's important to ask, "How can I benefit from using it?”
Here's some more information about this natural remedy:
OIL PULLING ORIGIN
The practice of oil pulling dates back hundreds of years in South Asian and Indian medicine, according to a study published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. Both cultures consider oil a healthy ingredient for body tissue, and the idea is that as the oil is swished and pulled through your mouth, it's removing the bacteria that can lead to plaque and gingivitis. Some claim that the practice has led to whiter teeth and decreased sensitivity. With more and more people seeking natural remedies for a healthier body, oil pulling is one of those remedies that crops up in dental hygiene topics. Natural living enthusiasts have eagerly picked up the habit of oil pulling, with some swishing oil for up to 30 minutes a day in search of the supposed benefits.
Does coconut oil whiten teeth? The American Dental Association (ADA) notes that there is not enough scientific evidence to prove oil pulling is beneficial to your oral health at all. Without reliable research and testing, the ADA cannot recommend the practice. At best, swishing with oil is ineffective. At worst, it could result in diarrhea or an upset stomach.
Why head to the specialty food store for a jar of coconut oil when the best whitening products are found in your drugstore? Brushing with a hydrogen peroxide whitening toothpaste may whiten your teeth in as few as three days. Or, if you're looking for instant whitening, you can talk to our office about professional methods that we can complete in-office to get the bright smile you want.
Oil pulling might be popular in some circles, but in the end, its whitening and oral health benefits are untested and unlikely to compare with methods that have been properly researched. If you really want whitening results, rely on the ingredients that have been proven to work and you won't have to add more time and effort to your oral care routine.
Q: I just turned 40 and I’m really trying to focus on healthier habits. I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to keep my teeth healthy, what do I need to know?
A: As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. The key to keeping a bright, healthy smile throughout adulthood is to practice proper oral hygiene. Adults can get cavities, as well as gum disease that can lead to serious problems.
Throughout your adult life, it's important to continue to:
- Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove dental plaque – the sticky film on your teeth that's the main cause of tooth decay and inflammation of the gums, called gingivitis.
- Floss daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and under your gum line, before it can harden into tartar. Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by a dental hygienist during a professional cleaning.
- Limit sugary or starchy foods, especially sticky snacks. The more often you snack between meals, the more chances you give bacteria to create the acids that attack your tooth enamel.
- Visit our office regularly for professional cleanings and checkups.
Here are a few of dental conditions to be aware of:
Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.
Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by a dentist during a routine checkup.
Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.