Oil Pulling Your Leg

The modern world is incredibly tough to navigate. One of the primary difficulties we face is the spread of misinformation; it can be difficult to evaluate whether or not a source is credible, and even more difficult to do an in-depth, multi-source analysis of a concept. Part of the difficulty stems from the tendency of misinformation to spread; one article misinterprets a scientific study, other articles pick it up, and soon the source study is lost to the aether, while a misconstrued conclusion picked from the article is the new fad. This is especially worrisome in the world of healthcare, where patients may make decisions based on unscientific conclusions.

Here’s an example: check out this WebMD article on oil pulling. A cursory read through seems to show the following: oil pulling is an ancient technique, used to draw out toxins and bacteria. You use coconut oil which you swish around in your mouth for 20 minutes, and doing so helps fight gingivitis and plaque. Assuming WebMD is your only source, you might go ahead and start the practice right away; tons of benefits with little cost and downside sounds great!

The problem, of course, is that oil pulling is not actually a well reputed technique. Despite the article’s claim that it’s not pseudoscience, it is unverified science, which makes it fairly pseudo to me. That’s not to say that there aren’t any possible benefits to oil pulling; rather, it’s to say there are no proven benefits. Dr. Euan Swan, the manager of dental programs at the Canadian Dental Association, has this to say: “We sense oil pulling won’t do any harm, we’re not convinced there are any particular benefits to it.” The American Dental Association agrees with the notion that oil pulling isn’t particularly useful.

When there’s a lack of scientific evidence, how do so many people get hooked on a practice? One way articles do this is by using leading language; the name “oil pulling” itself has a very visceral effect, as you imagine the oil literally pulling the toxins out of your mouth. Calling a practice “ancient” immediately ties it into notions of naturalism and ancient wisdom, the notion that because it was done before, it must be good or useful. This is a logical fallacy known as the “appeal to tradition”; just because something was thought to be useful before, doesn’t mean the logic that applied at the time still applies today. Being aware of buzzwords and thinking critically about your health is incredibly important when navigating online solutions to real, physical problems.

That’s why you should always consult with healthcare professionals before making changes to your health routines. This is as true of dental health as it is for diet or other lifestyle changes; your dentist will be able to ensure the practices you’re undertaking are actually useful. For some minor cosmetic problems, Winnipeg veneers are an excellent solution; get in touch with your dentist to find out how they can help you.