If a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, just how would the celebrated nanny weigh in on a spoonful of coconut oil?

It seems like she might as well throw her opinion into the ring. Celebrities, average Joes and even a few dentists in U.S., Canada have been weighing in on a practice that has origins with the Indian traditional medicine known as Ayurveda.

A washingtonpost.com article cites Sally J. Cram, a D.C.-based periodontist and a consumer adviser for the American Dental Association, saying she hasn’t seen any studies on oil pulling during her 28 years in dentistry. “Oil pulling is often cited as a natural breath freshener, and while Cram says the fragrance of certain oils may help, ‘there’s nothing in those oils that is anti-bacterial,'” she tells the Post.

Chicago cosmetic dentist Jessica T. Emery, DMD, shares expertise on the topic with dentistryiq.com and suggests advice to professionals whose patients ask about oil pulling as a home regimen for whitening their teeth, alleviating halitosis, and even reducing gingivitis

“For the record, a regular oil-pulling routine should not replace routine dental visits and traditional at-home oral care. Oil pulling does not reverse the effects of tooth decay, and it’s important that patients are made fully aware of that. That being said, I do believe that it is a great supplemental therapy. The phrase ‘oil pulling’ comes from the process of the oil being ‘worked”’ in the mouth by pulling, pushing, and sucking it through the teeth.”

She continues, “The procedure involves rinsing (swishing) approximately one tablespoon of oil around in your mouth. As the oil hits your teeth and gums, microbes are picked up as though they are being drawn to a powerful magnet. Bacteria hiding under crevices in the gums and in pores and tubules within the teeth are sucked out of their hiding places and held firmly in the solution.”

“People have to remember that this is a practice that’s been going on for possibly 5,000 years,” says Dr. Janice Mummery, founder of Princeview Dental in Canada. “It’s interesting that it’s only recently become prevalent in western cultures. I take that as a positive sign that people are looking for creative ways of teeth whitening.”

Dr. Emery notes that in her research only a “handful of published clinical trials” could be found, but offered helpful guidelines for patients who seek a holistic approach.

Should your patients swish for 20 minutes? Use sesame or sunflower oil? Or avoid the whole process completely?

To find out read the full articles below. No matter what, don’t dispose of the oil in the bathroom sink or shower – or you’ll be calling on another expert to unclog your drains.

http://www.dentistryiq.com/articles/2014/03/how-dental-professionals-can-respond-to-oil-pulling-patients.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/03/20/everyone-is-talking-about-oil-pulling-but-does-this-health-practice-actually-work/

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/swishing-with-oil-for-oral-health-not-recommended/284490/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/12/oil-pulling_n_4943808.html