INDIANAPOLIS - Some are raving about the results they say they are seeing from swishing oil around in their mouths in an effort to pull bacteria out of their bodies.
The practice, known as oil pulling, involves specific types of oil in a swishing routine 20 minutes a day before spitting.
There are skeptics, but people engaging in oil pulling and some dentists are convinced there are positive effects, such as whiter teeth and healthier gums.
Britney Gordon has been adding a spoonful of coconut oil to her daily hygiene routine for about a month. She believes the claims that oil pulling whitens teeth and pulls toxins out of the mouth.
"My teeth are definitely whiter," Gordon said. "It makes your mouth feel just really clean."
Oil pulling has been around for quite some time, but it's gaining popularity again through word of mouth.
"Our patients are just very impressed with the results they're seeing. I'm impressed with the results we're seeing orally in terms of hygiene and reduced bacteria and improved health in the gums," said Dr. Ted Reese, an Indianapolis dentist.
Reese also practices oil pulling. He said patients who do so have reduced plaque. Some have also reported acne clearing, fewer asthma and sinus problems and improvements in heart and stomach conditions.
Reese said oil pulling combats many problems that start in the mouth and is another defense to improve systemic health.
"Bacteria in the mouth gets into the blood stream through infectious gums," he said.
Reese recommends using raw, pure grade coconut oil, but oil pulling can also be done with various types of oil sold in stores, such as sunflower or sesame oil.
Jessica Lo, a dental hygienist, said she also saw a healthy transformation in her oil pulling patients. She is now also oil pulling regularly.
"Specifically the patients that had periodontal disease -- they're the ones that had the gum infections, the inflammation, the bleeding, the tenderness, the bad breath," she said. "This is amazing, because I've been able to whiten my teeth and not have sensitivity."
Experts said oil pulling is not a replacement for the normal routine of brushing and flossing. Results can vary from person to person. Those who are considering oil pulling should consult with a doctor.
Skinny Coconut Oil, one of the brands those who practice oil pulling recommend, has a disclaimer on its site stating that statements and claims have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and that "this product is not intended to treat, prevent, or cure any disease or illness."