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On the Radar: ‘Oil Pulling’, Popular Teens’ Sleep Habits and Mental Health Awareness Month

Do Dentists Approve of the “Oil Pulling” Trend?

What? Oil pulling is an ancient teeth-cleaning technique wherein someone puts a tablespoon of edible oil in their mouth and vigorously swishes it around, “pulling” the oil via suction between their teeth and gums before spitting it back out.

So What? According to, oil pulling has gone viral thanks to hundreds of TikTok posts promoting the technique, alleging that it can naturally whiten teeth, reverse tooth decay, fight gum disease and treat other oral health conditions.

Now What? The American Dental Association has formally stated that “there are no reliable scientific studies to show that oil pulling reduces cavities, whitens teeth or improves oral health and well-being.” Dentists say that there’s no harm in oil pulling (when done properly), but adopters should use it in addition to, not instead of traditional brushing and flossing.

New Study Finds That “Cool Kids” Sleep Worse

What? A new study published in Frontiers in Sleep has found that the social habits of popular teenagers may be coming between them and a good night’s sleep.

So What? Experts explain that while some of this may come from the proclivity for “cool kids” to spend more time late at night on social media cultivating their online persona, much of it has little to do with technology at all. Children with larger groups of friends are simply more likely to be invited to after-school social events and participate in extracurricular activities—not to mention their face-to-face interactions with those friends.

Now What? Study Finds recommends being more attuned to your child’s social life and how it could be impacting their sleep: “It’s not about discouraging friendships or popularity but rather about helping teens strike a healthy balance.” So encourage your teen to adhere to a set bedtime, reduce phone usage as the evening progresses, and create a wind-down routine to help them decompress and relax before heading off to sleep.

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

What? According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM) was first established in 1949 to “increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans’ lives and to celebrate recovery from mental illness.”

So What? Although many social media feeds are now filling with posts about MHAM, outdoor clothier L.L. Bean has, for the third year in a row, wiped its social media feed clean in the hope that folks will take a break from their screens (since many studies show that persistent screen time can negatively affect mental health) and get outside instead.

Now What? If you think that social media—or technology in general—is affecting your family’s overall mental health, May offers a natural opportunity to do a reset. That might mean taking planned screentime breaks and establishing new screentime habits as a family. It could also involve brainstorming new boundaries on tech use for summer vacation. (Read even more about establishing tech boundaries in Plugged In’s book, Becoming a Screen-Savvy Family.)

Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.