By Sarah Kinonen. Photos: Hannah Choi/Allure.
A few years ago, when Gwyneth Paltrow tipped us off on oil-pulling and all its alleged teeth-whitening glory, we, as in the Allure staff and the rest of the world, went on a coconut oil kick. The technique, which requires gargling coconut oil for up to 20 minutes at a time, promises a brighter smile and healthier gums. And now, three years later, the Goop guru's pearly white trick is still going strong, as a new crop of toothpastes, flosses, and mouth washes laden with the tropical-tasting elixir have just hit the market.
Earlier this year, vegan oral-care brand Hello launched a sensitive teeth-safe paste made with active ingredients potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride, but its stand-out ingredient? Good 'ol fashioned coconut oil. And then there's Desert Essence and Jason: Both brands have new lines of pastes and mouth washes, which are fluoride-free and formulated with virgin coconut oil to rid teeth and gums of buildup and impurities. Oh, and if you prefer floss, Coco Floss makes microfiber floss covered in sweetly scented, waxy coconut oil.
But as the trendy ingredient makes it way to our bathroom sinks, there's still the question of its efficacy. Back when oil-pulling took over our newsfeeds in 2014, the American Dental Association was quick to shut down claims that the practice was effective (and safe) enough to replace traditional fluoride toothpastes. "Oil-pulling is not recommended as a supplementary oral hygiene practice, and certainly not as a replacement for standard, time-tested oral health behaviors and modalities," the ADA wrote in a statement.
And now? Even when formulated as a paste, coconut oil still doesn't stand up to its conventional counterparts. "[Coconut oil] has not been proven to be effective, and is not approved by the [American Dental Association] for oral health use," New York City-based dentist [Timothy Chase](http://www.allure.com/story/viral-nail-biting-video) tells Allure. "There have been a few studies that show coconut oil helps to reduce the bacteria that cause cavities, but the ADA's position is that there needs to be further studies."
Bottom line: Brushing up with a coconut oil-infused product isn't necessarily frowned upon (hey, if you like the taste, then why not?), but, according to Chase, they shouldn't be used as a replacement to your everyday pastes and mouth washes. "I do not think there is a problem with products containing coconut oil, but you should not use them as an alternative to traditional toothpaste or mouth wash," he says. So, in the meantime, feel free to floss away with coconut oil — just remember to follow it up with your Crest or Colgate.
This story originally appeared on Allure.
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