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Natural oils for periodontal care

 Sesame oil is functional but with limitations.

Natural oils for periodontal care
In recent times, it is common to receive in the dental office questions from patients about rinses with natural oils or even if it is good to rub the gums with coconut oil, among others. 

The number of people who demand natural treatments is growing exponentially. As a result, more and more properties are attributed to coconut oil. But what is all this based on? What is true about these procedures?

The people most involved in using natural products will have heard of "oil pulling" with sesame oil. It is a millenary procedure, coming from the Indian techniques of Ayurveda, which consists of making strong swishes with sesame oil for 20 minutes. Then, the oil must be further rinsed until the viscosity of the oil changes and it becomes milky. Traditionally, this rinse was considered to eliminate bacteria from the mouth and to have a positive influence on preventing the colonization of bacteria to other parts of the body.

For years it has been considered a pseudoscience, and its hypothetical effect was no more than a placebo effect. However, in recent years studies have shown that its favorable results, in terms of preventing the accumulation of biofilm and gingivitis, are based on the saponification of existing fats in the oil, which causes the formation of bicarbonate ions, which are effective cleaners. The original procedure was with sesame oil, but coconut oil tends to be used for its better taste and its high content of antioxidants. However, it should not be swallowed or accidentally inhaled to avoid entering toxins with the oil. Instead, after 20 minutes, the oil should be spat out, rinsed thoroughly, and the teeth thoroughly washed with dental floss and/or an interdental brush.

It is still a natural mouthwash, which could be equivalent, according to some studies, to a chemical-type mouthwash without its side effects (at least known in the long term), but with the disadvantage that such a procedure needs quite some time to be performed correctly (which makes it challenging to comply). In any case, it is an additional procedure (coadjutant) to mechanical cleaning with a brush and dental floss.