An ancient dental health technique originated from the Indian culture. It is claimed to have teeth whitening effects, freshen your breath, and improve your general oral health. It involves swishing oil around the mouth for a few minutes (essentially using oil as a mouthwash). Oils used include coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil to mention but a few.


Put a tablespoon of oil in your mouth. Swish the oil around for 15 to 20 minutes before spitting it out. Do not swallow!

How does it work?

  • Harmful bacteria in the mouth dissolves in the liquid oil.

There are more than 1000 different types of bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria are covered with a fatty coating, which sticks on to the oil when the two come into contact. Since oils gets into all the locations that a toothbrush does not, it is said to reduce the bacteria. This also helps ensure that sugar remnants will be broken down. Therefore, the result is improved oral health and reduced tooth decay.

  • Fatty acids available in the oil contain high amounts of Lauric acid.

Lauric acid has anti -microbial properties. Research shows that Lauric acid exerts inhibitory effects on the growth of bacteria. This may include enveloped viruses and the good bacteria.

  • Oil pulling dissolves the biofilm in your mouth (the thin, glassy, and opaque layer that covers the enamel).

The low viscosity keeps microbes from sticking onto the surface, hence making it harder for them to re-colonize or form a film.

  • Oil swishing removes the non-polar substances that water cannot remove.

Since oil is a non-polar liquid, it will remove all the non-polar remains while water will remove the polar remains. That is why you should not neglect brushing in favor of oil pulling, but you should integrate the two.

Research supporting oil pulling

According to a study carried out in 2011 and reported by the Journal of Indian Society Pedontitis and Preventive Dentistry, oil pulling has the same effectiveness as an antimicrobial mouthwash. This means that it can effectively relieve halitosis.

Earlier studies reported by the same journal, claimed that oil pulling shows significant reduction in bacteria count when used consistently as well.

Benefits of oil pulling

  • It can reduce the count of harmful bacteria in the mouth.

Certain types of harmful bacteria are responsible for tooth decay, bad breath, and gum disease.

  • When accompanied by regular brushing, it appears to help reduce halitosis

Poor oral hygiene, tongue coating, or gum infection are the main causes of halitosis

  • It may help prevent cavities

Cavities are caused by too much sugar, and bacteria build up in the mouth

  • Reduces inflammation and promotes healthy gums

Bacteria found in plaque can cause red, swollen, or bleeding gums

  • It is a cheap easy and natural remedy

If you are the kind to go all green and natural, then oil pulling is a cheap fix for you

Effectiveness of oil pulling

When employed daily and consistently, oil pulling is an effective oral hygiene technique. However, it should not be used as a replacement/alternative to brushing/flossing and regular consultation with your doctor.