Oil Pulling: Improve Your Dental Health

5 min read
Feb 22, 2024
Oil Pulling: Improve Your Dental Health
By lowering the amount of bad germs in your mouth, oil pulling can lower your chance of developing certain illnesses. However, no research indicates that it whitens teeth or removes toxins from the blood.
An age-old Indian folk cure called "oil pulling" is said to significantly enhance oral health, whiten teeth, and improve breath.
Oil pulling with coconut oil is growing in popularity.
This cure is highly recommended by many, and many also claim that it has additional health benefits.
This article investigates if these claims are true or if oil pulling is just another fad that isn't working.

How does oil pulling operate, and what is it?

Swishing oil around the mouth akin to mouthwash is known as oil pulling. It has been utilized as an Indian traditional treatment for thousands of years.
Reducing the quantity of dangerous bacteria in the mouth is the primary advantage of oil pulling.
Your mouth is home to hundreds of different kinds of germs. Many people are friendly, but not everyone is. The biofilm that the bacteria in your mouth produce on your teeth is referred to as plaque.
While some plaque is typical on teeth, when it accumulates excessively it can lead to a number of issues, such as:
  • Bad breath
  • Gum inflammation like gingivitis
  • Cavities
  • Gum disease
The process of oil pulling is straightforward: the germs are carried away and dissolve in the liquid oil when you swish the oil around your mouth.
Any oil should work well for oil pulling, but extra-virgin coconut oil is a common option because of its delicious flavor.
Additionally, it contains a good fatty acid profile with a high concentration of lauric acid, which has antibacterial qualities.


An age-old Indian treatment for cleaning teeth and mouth is oil pulling. It is said to lessen gum irritation, foul breath, and cavity risk.

Using coconut oil pulling for your teeth can lessen dangerous bacteria

One of the primary bacteria in your mouth, Streptococcus mutans plays a major role in tooth decay and plaque accumulation.
Using coconut oil pulling for your teeth can lessen dangerous bacteria
Using coconut oil pulling for your teeth can lessen dangerous bacteria
In a 2016 study including sixty adults, oil pulling using coconut oil for ten minutes per day, as opposed to distilled water, dramatically decreased the amount of S. mutans in saliva in as little as two weeks.
An earlier trial conducted on children found that coconut oil reduced S. mutans just as well as a mouthwash that often contained chlorhexidine.
Even though these outcomes are encouraging, more research is required to compare the efficacy of coconut oil with other kinds of oils.


When used as a mouthwash, coconut oil can dramatically lower the amount of dangerous bacteria in your mouth, like S. mutans.

Oil pulling helps lessen gingivitis and plaque

Your immune system battling the bacteria in the plaque causes gum inflammation, which leads to gingivitis.
According to a 2020 study involving 20 adults, oil pulling using virgin coconut oil effectively decreased the buildup of plaque. The authors point out that further study is still required.
In a 2017 study, the effects of drawing coconut oil against a placebo were tested with forty dentistry students. Oil pulling was discovered by researchers to be useful in lowering plaque.


Gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, may be lessened by oil pulling using coconut oil.

Oil pulling can reduce bad breath

Halitosis, another name for bad breath, is a condition where bacteria in your mouth produce odorous gasses and chemicals that give you bad breath.
Halitosis sufferers usually have an underlying cause, which may be one of the following:
  • Overall poor oral hygiene
  • Gingivitis
  • Cavities
  • Infections
  • Some digestive conditions
It stands to reason that you will have less foul breath if you eliminate some of these bacteria and take better care of your teeth.
If oil pulling with coconut oil offers similar effects for halitosis, more research is need to determine this. However, it appears likely because it might lessen plaque and gingivitis.


Bad breath may be lessened by oil pulling.

Unproven benefits and misconceptions

One popular belief is that teeth can be whitened by oil pulling. As of right now, no studies support this advantage.
Additionally, some people think that oil pulling is a kind of detoxification that removes poisons from the circulation. This theory is unsupported by any data.
Lastly, there is no scientific proof that this therapy works for illnesses other than oral ailments.


As of right now, there is no proof to back up the claims that oil pulling can remove toxins from the blood or whiten teeth.

How to oil pull

To try oil pulling:
  • Place approximately 1 tsp (15 mL) of oil in your mouth.
  • For fifteen to twenty minutes, swish the oil around your mouth.
  • After spitting out the oil, wash your teeth.
Spit the oil onto paper and dispose of it in the garbage; otherwise, it could eventually clog your pipes.
Not much force needs to be used. If your facial muscles hurt from oil pulling try relaxing a little. Next time, try using less oil and don't swirl it too vigorously.
It is recommended, according to some, to oil pull when you are not hungry and before you brush your teeth. Many people do it in the morning while taking a bath or shower.


Oil pulling is easy. 1 tbsp (15 mL) of oil should be placed in your mouth, swished around for 15 to 20 minutes, and then spat out. Brush your teeth after giving yourself a water rinse.

The bottom line

Using coconut oil for oil pulling can lower your risk of gingivitis, cavities, and foul breath.
There are a lot of other health claims related to oil pulling, most of which lack scientific validation.
However, oil pulling appears to be a promising adjunctive method for enhancing dental hygiene.

Frequently asked questions

What does oil pulling actually do?

Plaque-causing germs in your mouth may be reduced with oil pulling.

Do dentists recommend oil pulling?

Because there is little scientific evidence to support oil pulling, the American Dental Association (ADA) does not advise it.

Which comes first: brushing your teeth or oil pulling?

Brushing your teeth after oil pulling is advised by proponents of the practice.

What oil do you use for oil pulling?

Coconut oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil are commonly suggested oils for oil pulling.

Is oil pulling safe for everyone?

While generally safe for most adults, consult your dentist before starting if you have any dental issues, gum disease, or jaw problems.

Can children oil pull?

Not recommended for children due to risk of swallowing the oil.

What if I accidentally swallow the oil?

Do not panic, but seek medical advice if you experience any discomfort or unusual symptoms.

Are there any side effects?

Some people experience mild headaches, nausea, or jaw fatigue initially. Reduce duration or frequency if needed.

How often should I oil pull?

Once or twice daily is recommended.

What time of day is best?

Morning on an empty stomach or before bed are common choices.

Can I use other oils besides coconut oil?

Yes, but coconut oil is popular for its taste and potential benefits. Experiment with other options like sesame or olive oil.

What happens to the oil after I spit it out?

Dispose of it in the trash, not the sink, to avoid clogging.

Can I brush my teeth after oil pulling?

Yes, brushing and flossing as usual is important for complete oral hygiene.

Does oil pulling replace regular brushing and flossing?

Absolutely not. Oil pulling is a complementary practice, not a substitute for proper oral hygiene routines.

Are there any risks of using oil pulling long-term?

While no long-term risks are known, consult your dentist for personalized advice.

Where can I find more information about oil pulling?

Reputable websites, dental professionals, or research papers can provide further details.
  • Oil pulling is not a magic bullet for oral health.
  • Consult your dentist before starting any new oral hygiene practices.
  • Maintain regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings for optimal oral health.

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