In my previous articles on oil pulling, I’ve discussed that the old practice may not be more effective on plaque and gingivitis than rinsing with plain water, does not whiten your teeth, and can even make tooth erosion worse.
How about oil pulling to treat tooth sensitivity? For example, around a quarter of people have sensitive teeth and feel pain when drinking ice water. So the researchers divided people into three groups – oil pulling, desensitizing toothpaste, and placebo, which was just rinsed off with salt water – and then irradiated the subjects’ teeth with cold air. As you can see at 0:44 in my video The Risks of Oil Pulling, the placebo didn’t help much; the before-and-after sensitivity values were the same for nine out of ten in the placebo group. However, the desensitizing toothpaste appeared to help most patients, as did the oil pulling. Okay, so oil pulling has some advantages. If you have sensitive teeth why not give it a try? Unless there are some drawbacks or risks associated with oil pulling.
Usually, the only concern you will express is clogging your sink drain, but the reason to be warned in young children is a fear of aspiration. The children could accidentally choke on the oil, which could result in some sliding the wrong tube into their lungs. Actually, this can happen at any age, but is it just a theoretical problem? No. Cases of lipoid pneumonia, in which an oily substance enters the lungs, are attributed to oil pulling.
This was first described in 1925 when it was common to use substances like menthol petroleum jelly in children’s nostrils – until they died of pneumonia. The autopsy found that areas of her lungs were clogged with an oily liquid. Are we happy that we no longer use menthol petroleum jelly? But we do. This is Vicks VapoRub, and if you stick it in your nostrils, you can end up filling part of your lungs with it, as you can see in mine at 2:18 Video. Petroleum jelly liquefies at body temperature and creeps into your lungs when you sleep, which is why you should never put it in your nose before bed. People have to be aware of this. A long time ago I did my part by watching Is Petroleum Jelly Good for You? posted. It’s not just petroleum jelly, however – anything oily or greasy can do it. For example, “intranasal butter application” was apparently an ancient folk remedy given to children with nasal congestion. Unfortunately, the children could develop pneumonia or congested lungs.
The same thing can happen with olive oil. There was even a case of a woman who developed lipid pneumonia because she mistakenly thought it was a good idea to put her baby oil up her nose when her nostrils were dry. Less common causes include inhaling too much vaporized candle wax after spending most of your time in a shrine surrounded by lit candles. Lipoid pneumonia is not called “fire-eater lung” for nothing, as the actors expose themselves to the danger of aspirating tiki torch oil. Fortunately, a really rare cause is self-injection with oil. Why would anyone do that? To “increase the size” [their] Genitals ”, of course, until they accidentally hit a vein and inject oil into their bloodstream.
Bad as it is, I’m more concerned about cases like this one: A woman was hospitalized four times with pneumonia in just six months. “On the fourth shot [her doctors] inquired meticulously about all possible causes of her recurrent pneumonia and stated that she had drawn oil 2 weeks before her first intake. Then, after she was discharged from the hospital, “she went back to the practice even more rigorously in order to eliminate possible toxic effects of the drugs she had taken during his hospital stay.” Her attempt to “detoxify” herself from all of the drugs she had given her resulted in three more hospitalizations. Her doctors told her to stop oil pulling and stop pneumonia.
This is one of the reasons the American Dental Association recommends against the practice. In fact, you may remember the teeth whitening experiment that I discussed in a previous article. The researchers used extracted teeth instead of real human subjects. Why? They stated that “it is not ethical to initiate a human trial against … [oil pulling] knowing that there was a possibility of causing lipoid pneumonia in study participants. “
This article covers the final video in my four-part series on oil pulling. For the first three see:
- Does Oil Pulling Help With Cancer?
- Benefits of oil pulling for plaque and gingivitis
- Oil pulling tested for teeth whitening and bad breath
Speaking of toothpaste, have you ever wondered about this SLS ingredient? Check out my videos Is Sodium Lauryl Sulphate Safe? and is CAPD better in SLS-free toothpaste?.
You can find more information about dental health at:
- How to stop tooth decay
- Should you floss before or after brushing?
- Best food for periodontal disease and gingivitis
- Treat periodontal disease with diet
- Best foods for halitosis and gingivitis
Michael Greger, MD
PS: If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:
- 2019: Evidence-Based Weight Loss
- 2016: How Not to Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our 15 Biggest Killers
- 2015: Food as medicine: Preventing and treating the most dreaded diseases with nutrition
- 2014: From the table to the ability: Fighting diseases with food
- 2013: More than an apple a day
- 2012: uprooting the main causes of death