Can You Oil Pull with Braces? 

Can You Oil Pull with Braces
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Oil pulling is a traditional oral health practice that has gained significant attention in recent years. Many people praise its benefits, but a common question arises: can it be done with braces? This article aims to answer that question by exploring the concept of oil pulling, the potential advantages and disadvantages of oil pulling with braces, alternative oral health practices for those with braces, options for those considering braces but wanting to oil pull, and the overall safety implications of combining these two practices.

What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling comes from ancient Ayurvedic medicine and is believed to offer several oral health benefits. Supporters state it can help maintain oral cleanliness and decrease gingivitis, bad breath, and plaque. The technique is thought to bind bacteria and toxins to the oil, which are removed when the oil is spat out. The practice involves swishing a tablespoon of oil, such as coconut, sunflower, or olive, in the mouth for 15-20 minutes.

Advantages of Oil Pulling

Oil pulling has many benefits:

  • Bacteria and Toxin Removal: This helps bind and remove bacteria and toxins from the mouth, leading to a cleaner oral environment.
  • Reduces Bad Breath: This can help in reducing halitosis or bad breath by removing the bacteria that cause it.
  • Decreases Plaque and Gingivitis: Offers a natural method to reduce plaque buildup and the onset of gingivitis.
  • Natural Teeth Whitening: Some users observe a whitening effect on their teeth, although results can be individual-specific.

Advantages of Oil Pulling with Braces

Oil pulling also has many advantages for those who wear braces:

  • Pain and Inflammation Relief: One potential advantage of oil pulling is its ability to soothe discomfort in the mouth, which can occur after braces are tightened. The process can reduce inflammation and provide relief from the associated pain.
  • Improvement of Oral Health: Another benefit of oil pulling is its potential to improve overall oral health, including promoting gum health. Some studies have shown that oil pulling may have anti-inflammatory effects on gums, resulting in healthier gum tissue.

Worth Knowing

A survey highlighted in the International Journal of Orthodontic Rehabilitation reveals that oil pulling plays a beneficial role in maintaining oral hygiene for people wearing fixed braces.

Disadvantages of Oil Pulling with Braces

Oil pulling can be beneficial for overall oral health; however, it has its limitations when practiced with braces. 

  • Ineffective Cleaning Around Brackets and Wires: Firstly, it may not effectively clean around brackets and wires, preventing the oil from reaching certain areas and leaving them vulnerable to the accumulation of plaque and bacteria.
  • Uneven Whitening: Secondly, there’s a potential risk of uneven teeth whitening. The brackets may prevent the oil from coming into contact with certain areas of the teeth, leading to inconsistent shades once the braces are removed.
  • Potential Discomfort: Moreover, the constant swishing of the oil for an extended period may cause discomfort or strain for patients, especially those who have recently had their braces tightened or adjusted. 
  • Risk of Loosening Braces Components: The movement of the oil may also lead to the loosening of small components of the braces, necessitating more frequent orthodontic visits.

Consulting With a Dental Professional

Taking into account all the advantages and disadvantages, oil pulling with braces is not recommended, as it may not effectively clean around brackets and wires, and its benefits for oral health remain unproven. Instead, dental professionals suggest focusing on proven oral hygiene practices like brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash to maintain good dental health during orthodontic treatment.

If you still have questions or concerns about the impact of oil pulling on your teeth while wearing braces, do not hesitate to reach out to a dental professional. They can address your concerns and guide you on the right path to maintain healthy teeth and gums throughout your orthodontic journey.

Alternative Oral Health Practices for Braces

While oil pulling with braces is not recommended, maintaining proper oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment is essential. Here are some alternative practices to help you maintain good dental health.

Regular Brushing: Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and after each meal if possible. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles, brushing systematically around all brackets and along the gum line.

Flossing: Flossing is crucial for individuals with braces as it helps remove plaque and food debris trapped between teeth and underwires. Use waxed floss or a floss threader to make it easier to maneuver around braces.

Interdental Cleaning: Interdental brushes, also known as proxy brushes, reach areas where conventional toothbrushes and floss might have difficulty. These brushes help clean between brackets and along wires, reducing the risk of gum disease and cavities.

Mouthwash: Rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash designed for orthodontic patients to further reduce plaque and bacteria buildup. 

Regular Dental Check-ups: Maintain routine dental appointments for professional cleanings, ensuring optimal oral health throughout your orthodontic treatment.

Alternative to Braces

For those interested in oil pulling, clear aligners could be a more suitable choice than traditional braces. See our reviews of the most popular at-home aligners:

Byte – The top pick, this aligner is affordable and comes with a free HyperBite and teeth whitening kit. This product also has a lifetime guarantee. See our review of Byte aligners.

Byte

Byte

An affordable option with refundable impression kits, free HyperByte, and a Byte for Life guarantee.

Check out Byte Aligners

Candid – The most similar to Invisalign aligners with hybrid in-office care this product has great reviews from its customers. See our review of CandidPro aligners.

Candid

Candid

A hybrid of in-office and at-home treatment that provides 1-on-1 orthodontist support.

Check out Candid Aligners

Is Oil Pulling Safe? Implications of Oil Pulling with Braces

Oil pulling is generally considered a safe practice for maintaining oral health. However, when it comes to oil pulling with braces, its effectiveness and safety become a matter of debate. The reason for this is that oil pulling may not effectively clean around brackets and wires, limiting its benefits for oral health in individuals with braces. Furthermore, the benefits of oil pulling for oral health remain unproven. 

In conclusion, oil pulling is a safe practice for those without braces, but its effectiveness and safety for individuals with braces remain uncertain. While oil pulling does not pose any significant risks to dental health, performing this practice with braces is not recommended. It is better to rely on established oral care practices to maintain good dental health during orthodontic treatment. 

Sources

Naseem, M., Khiyani, M. F., Nauman, H., Zafar, M. S., Shah, A. S., Khalil, H. S., Oil pulling and importance of traditional medicine in oral health maintenance; Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2017. Available online at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5654187/

Tzu-Rong Peng, Han-Yu Cheng, Ta-Wei Wu, Boon-Kok Ng, Effectiveness of Oil Pulling for Improving Oral Health: A Meta-Analysis; Healthcare (Basel). 2022. DOI: 10.3390/healthcare10101991. Available online at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9602184/

Woolley, J., Gibbons, T., Patel, K., Sacco, R., The effect of oil pulling with coconut oil to improve dental hygiene and oral health: A systematic review; Heliyon, 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e04789. Available online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405844020316327

Kumara, R. B., Kavitha, D., Oral Health Effects of Oil Pulling. A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials; Journal of Indian Association of Public Health Dentistry, 2021. DOI: 10.4103/jiaphd.jiaphd_8_21. Available online at: https://journals.lww.com/aphd/fulltext/2021/19030/

Kolhe, S. A., Sheetal Patani, S., Gulve, N., Pawar, R., Oil pulling as an adjunct to improve oral health in orthodontic patients: A clinicomicrobial study; International Journal of the Orthodontic Rehabilitation, DOI: 10.4103/ijor.ijor_34_19. Available online at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/338059765

Mohammed, S., Sujeev, Neeraj, Shamil, A., Sreekanth, Venith, Evaluation of Efficacy of Virgin Coconut Oil in Maintaining Hygiene in Orthodontics Patients; Annals of International Medical and Dental Research, 2019. Available online at: https://aimdrjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/DE11_OA_Abid-2.pdf

Iza Wojnarowski

Content contributor

Iza is a dedicated content contributor for Toothific. Having worn braces twice and currently using Invisalign to correct a mild overbite, Iza brings a unique perspective to her writing. She spends her time staying updated on the latest dental trends and treatments, ensuring her readers have the most current information for their dental care needs.

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