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EDIT.

I am looking for references to serious research articles on the subject, whether confirming or refuting. (Or articles referring to such, but not articles without peer refereed references.)

To avoid any confusion, by "serious" I only mean reputable peer refereed journals.

Here are some examples of such articles, taken from https://www.reddit.com/r/C_S_T/comments/6t6wot/oil_pulling_and_why_the_skeptics_are_wrong/, (some of which seem to confirm the positive effects of the oil pulling but do not seem to study the specific problem in the question):

https://www.johcd.org/doi/pdf/10.5005/johcd-1-1-12 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27084861 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11890570 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3853744/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25838632 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21911944 https://www.nature.com/articles/sj.bdj.2012.856?foxtrotcallback=true


Many sources recommend to spend 15-20 minutes for oil pulling, however those numbers look randomly chosen with no justification provided. It is conceivable that 15-20 minutes have been chosen by popular practitioners for reasons of their personal comfort, while other sources have simply repeated the figure. It is also conceivable that longer pulling may increase the benefits, even if it feels less comfortable to some practitioners. Or, conversely, are there side effects of any prolonged oil pulling?

My question is, where is the science and where are people's personal convenience choices? Has any research been conducted to study effects of the oil pulling over different periods?

4

The study you linked in the comments (Amith et al., 2007) stated that there were 10 subjects and the subjects were to

Swish approximately 8-10 minutes or till you feel a fullness in your mouth.

The last part of the instructions to the subjects suggests that the feeling of fullness in the mouth could happen before the 8 minute point. Plus the study of 10 subjects is a very small study. Nevertheless, the study points out that there is a potential that oil pulling can help with oral hygiene.

The point that the study makes is that 10 minutes is enough to obtain any benefit from oil pulling. Whether or not you choose to pull for more time is up to you.

As pointed out in the comments, the dentistry website you linked indicates that:

There is no official verdict regarding the benefits of oil pulling as there is unfortunately very little research on the topic.

Once there are more (and larger) studies performed, there will be more of a consensus on the subject, therefore creating an official stance on the benefits of oil pulling.

If you feel that oil pulling helps, there is an indication that 8-10 minutes is enough. If you wish to follow the 15-20 minute suggestion you have seen (or longer) then fine. That is your choice.

What I would suggest is to speak to your dentist/orthodontist and seek their advice. Their advice will be tailored to your specific needs.

References

Amith, H. V., Ankola, A. V., & Nagesh, L. (2007). Effect of oil pulling on plaque and gingivitis. J Oral Health Community Dent, 1(1), 12-18. Retrieved from https://www.johcd.org/doi/pdf/10.5005/johcd-1-1-12

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3

Is oil pulling beneficial for oral health?

It may not be possible to make convincing conclusions from three small studies (linked in the question) about the benefits of oil pulling on oral health, especially when knowing this is an Ayurvedic dental technique and most authors involved in the studies are Indians, so they might be biased for positive results.

A systematic review is usually considered a higher level evidence.

The authors of the following review from the University of Oxford/UK Effect of oil pulling in promoting oro dental hygiene: A systematic review of randomized clinical trials (PubMed, 2016) have concluded:

The limited evidence to date from clinical trials suggests that oil pulling may have beneficial effects on oro dental hygiene as seen for the short period of time investigated.

This systematic review included 26 randomized clinical trials, which were short term (10-45 days) and included only 160 participants in total, they "varied in reporting quality," and in 5 studies no effect was observed, which, altogether, is not a very strong evidence.

The authors (mainly from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) of the following review Oil pulling and importance of traditional medicine in oral health maintenance (PubMed, 2017) have concluded:

For modern day practices, oil pulling can be suggested for adjunct use, with tooth brushing and flossing, to maintain the standard oral health care.

According to American Dental Association:

Currently, there are no reliable scientific studies to show that oil pulling reduces cavities, whitens teeth or improves oral health and well-being. Based on the lack of scientific evidence, the American Dental Association does not recommend oil pulling as a dental hygiene practice.

Are there any benefits of oil pulling for more than 20 minutes?

I have found no studies that would test this.

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  • Thank you for the references. The 2016 article indicates the interest and demand for more studies: "Future clinical trials should be more rigorous and better reported.", so there might be some more subsequent work. The google scholar back citation tool is listing quite a few articles: scholar.google.com/… – Dmitri Zaitsev May 28 '19 at 2:05
  • The last link from mouthhealthy.org does not list authors, nor any peer refereed reference, so I would not regard it as scientific reliable source. Given potential business gains behind such recommendations, particular scrutiny is required to ensure impartiality. – Dmitri Zaitsev May 28 '19 at 2:13
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    Mouthealthy.org is a website run by American Dental Association and the linked article is a "consumer version" of their statement about oil pulling. There is usually a lot of research behind such statements, but they often don't list authors and references in these versions. I would regard it as a scientific source, but no one needs to rely on it if not convinced. – Jan May 28 '19 at 8:01
  • As scientist, I can only consider serious sources giving references to verifiably reputable peer refereed journals. Associations often run as business, otherwise obvious question arises about lacking references, especially if they do indeed rely on proper research, why hide it? – Dmitri Zaitsev May 28 '19 at 13:17
  • It's quite possible, if you contact them, they will provide you with additional information. I haven't found any version of that article with references. – Jan May 28 '19 at 13:37

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