7 benefits of oil pulling that make it worth your oral care routine!

The benefits of oil pulling are numerous such as better oral hygiene, preventing cavities and plaque. Read on to know more
Woman smiling, showing white teeth
Oil pulling has a host of oral health benefits such as removing plaque and preventing gum disease. Image courtesy: Pexels
Anjuri Nayar Singh Updated: 22 Apr 2024, 16:07 pm IST
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From reducing the bacteria and other impurities in your mouth to enhancing gum health and even better breath, oil pulling has numerous benefits. This technique, that involves swishing oil in your mouth for a particular period of time, is quite easy to incorporate in your routine as well. Oil pulling also has its roots in Ayurveda, and is being practiced since generations now. However, the research done on the benefits of oil pulling might be limited in some aspects.

What is oil pulling?

An ancient practice, oil pulling refers to the technique of swishing oil in your mouth for a particular period of time in order to eliminate bacteria as well as promote oral health and hygiene. Wondering what does oil pulling do? It is known to make your teeth and your gums healthier. Most people practice it with coconut oil.

Plastic teeth being brushed with a tooth brush
You must brush your teeth after oil pulling, and not before it. Image courtesy: Pexels

What are the health benefits of oil pulling?

Know some of the oral care benefits of oil pulling, as explained by dental surgeon Dr Sindhu U Muktamath.

1. Oil pulling may reduce harmful bacteria in your mouth

The swishing motion of the oil helps to wash out the dirt and bacteria on the surface of your teeth. Oils like coconut oil, which has anti- inflammatory properties can reduce the swelling in gums, making it less favourable for bacteria to thrive improving the overall oral hygiene. This study, published in Journal of the Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, saw that 75 adolescents who practiced oil pulling for 15 days with sesame oil has less harmful bacteria in their saliva.

2. Oil pulling helps with bad breath

One of the biggest benefits of oil pulling is that when the oil is swished across your mouth, it helps to pull out food deposits and reduces bacteria that results in bad breath. Using coconut oil for oil pulling will be a great choice if the goal is to get rid of bad breath, as it has anti-bacterial properties. A study, published in Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, had 20 children do oil pulling with sesame oil and this decreased microorganisms in their mouths that cause bad breath.

3. It may prevent cavities

Lack of proper oral hygiene leads to cavities. Oil pulling enhances the production of saliva in mouth and helps in dealing with its acidic nature, preventing bacterial growth. It also helps to remove plaque from the teeth easily, without causing harm to the tooth enamel. Another study, published in Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, states that oil pulling reducing bacteria, which can cause tooth decay and cavities.

4. Reduces inflammation and improves gum health

Oil pulling not only helps in promoting the teeth hygiene, but it also helps the gums. Swelling and inflammations in the gums will no longer be a concern if oil pulling is used. It makes the cleaning process easier and is delicate on the gums. Thus, oil pulling can help prevent bleeding gums. The anti- inflammatory properties of oil prevent swelling and conditions like gingivitis. A study, published in Nigerian Medical Journal, observed that there was an improvement on gingivitis when oil pulling was practiced.

5. May lead to detoxification

Oil pulling can detoxify the mouth if used regularly before brushing. It has a cleaning effect and helps in maintaining good oral health, says Dr Muktamath.

6. Moisturising effect on dry mouth and throat

Oil pulling helps with dryness not only in the mouth but also the throat. It helps to regulate the secretion of saliva and hygiene. “Irritation caused by dry throat is also managed by oil pulling,” says Dr Muktamath.

7. Strengthens oral muscles

Oil pulling requires physical efforts to be practiced. “This results in movements by the facial muscles that helps in the strengthening of certain facial muscles,” explains Dr Muktamath. Therefore, this a great way to improve oral health and well being.

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Is oil pulling cheap and easy to add to your routine?

A major factor that makes oil pulling worth giving a try is its accessibility. It is affordable and can be easily taken from your pantry or purchased from a nearby store.

How to do oil pulling?

Oil pulling is typically done using coconut oil, but some people may also choose sesame oil or sunflower. The best way to use these is to swish these oils like you would use a mouthwash. But here is a step-by-step guide to oil pulling:

• Take a teaspoon of oil (of your choice) and transfer it into your mouth.
• Swish around the oil across your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure to move it across, covering every inch of your mouth. You should also make sure there is not much pressure applied while moving the oil around.
• Carefully spit out the oil after the mentioned time, without swallowing it.
• Continue with your dental hygiene cycle by brushing.

Teeth being worked on using dental equipment
The American Dental Association does not list oil pulling as an effective and reliable oral health care practice. Image courtesy: Pexels

Is oil pulling safe?

The safety aspect of oil pulling comes from the type of oil that you are using. Many people use coconut oil for oil pulling. However, there are some points should be kept in mind to make oil pulling safe.

  • You should not be allergic to the oil you are using.
  • The oil that is left in your mouth after the procedure, needs to be spit out.
  •  You need to continue to brush and implement the rest of your dental health care procedures as oil pulling cannot substitute it.

Risks of oil pulling

While oil pulling is not dangerous, there are some potential side effects that can come about with excessive oil pulling or an incorrect procedure. Initially, you might experience nausea because of the oil in your mouth. Also, some people have reported increased tooth sensitivity and a sore jaw due to oil pulling. It can also lead to a headache. However, it is important to remember that all this goes away once you get used to the procedure.

What is the best oil for oil pulling?

Coconut oil has become a popular choice when it comes to oil pulling. This is because coconut oil has a good taste, and is easily available. Coconut oil also has the following qualities that make it one of the best oils for oil pulling. The antimicrobial lauric acid present in coconut oil makes it a perfect choice, states a study in Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

There are some comparative studies also that point to coconut oil being the ideal option for oil pulling. This study in Journal of Natural science, Biology and Medicine states that coconut oil is better at treating gingivitis than sesame oil.

Besides this, this paper in Lippincott, suggests that when it comes to tooth decay, oil pulling with coconut oil is as effective as using a medicinal mouthwash.  Additionally, a study in Journal of Traditional and Complementry Medicine, says that when the lauric acid in coconut oil, mixes with saliva, it helps to reduce plaque.

How often should you oil pull?

Oil pulling should be done at least a few times a week. However, it should not be done more than three times a day. As for how long should you oil pull, initially you can do it for a duration of five minutes, and then gradually increase it to 20 minutes.

FAQs about oil pulling

Does oil pulling whiten teeth?

There is no scientific evidence that points to oil pulling whitening teeth. However, a study, published in Nigerian Health Journal, suggests that oil pulling helps to remove plaque, and that can make the teeth look whiter.

Does coconut oil pulling remove plaque?

Yes, oil pulling, when does with coconut oil, can help to eliminate plaque formation. This study, published in Nigerian Medical Journal, as well as a paper publish in European Journal of Dentistry, state that coconut oil pulling can help with plaque-induced gingivitis as well.

Should you brush your teeth before or after oil pulling?

When it comes to brushing your teeth and oil pulling, it is better to brush your teeth once you are done oil pulling. This way, you can remove the excess oil after the procedure. This would help to remove the bacteria in your mouth as well.

Do dentists recommend oil pulling?

Oil pulling is not very popular among the dentists. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) does not list it as a reliable oral healthcare practice to follow. The Journal of Michigan Dental Association also states that oil pulling is not a substitute for oral hygiene practices.



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About the Author

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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