Dental diseases are a major public health problem in most industrialized countries and can have detrimental effects on the functionality and quality of life of individuals. 92% of adults have had dental caries in their permanent teeth and 26% of adults have untreated decay (NIDCR, 2018). Oil pulling, with roots in Ayurvedic medicine, is an easy and effective way to remove bacteria and promote healthy teeth and gums. Oil pulling is simply done by swishing a tablespoon of oil (typically coconut oil, olive or sesame oil) in your mouth for 10–20 minutes. According to a study performed by researchers from the Department of Pediatric Dentistry in Tamil Nadu, India, oil pulling reduces Streptococcus mutans bacteria, a significant contributor to tooth decay and dental caries (Asokan et al, 2008). Another study published in the Nigerian Medical Journal found that coconut oil pulling can decrease plaque in those with gingivitis due in part to the oil’s lauric acid content (Peedikayil et al, 2015).
Oil pulling works by cleaning (detoxifying) the oral cavity in a similar way that soap cleans dirty dishes. It literally sucks the dirt (toxins) out of your mouth and creates a clean, antiseptic oral environment that contributes to the proper flow of dental liquid that’s needed to prevent cavities and disease. This procedure has been used for centuries as a traditional India remedy to:
- Treat tooth decay
- Kill bad breath
- Heal bleeding gums
- Prevent heart disease
- Reduce inflammation
- Whiten teeth
- Soothe throat dryness
- Prevent cavities
- Heal cracked lips
- Boost the immune system
- Improve acne
- Strengthen gums and jaws
Coconut Oil Pulling: How-To
This is how I like to do coconut oil pulling:
- Make sure to oil pull first thing in the morning right after you get out of bed — before you brush your teeth or drink anything.
- Gently swish 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth and between your teeth for 10–20 minutes, making sure that you don’t swallow any of the oil. (Do this gently so you don’t wear out your jaw and cheeks!). I find 1 TBSP to be a bit much so I use what’s comfortable for my size mouth. I aim for 15 minutes (often in the shower).
- Spit out the oil in the trash (not the sink so it doesn’t clog up the sink), and immediately rinse your mouth out with warm water.
- Finally, brush your teeth as normal.
- Repeat 3-5 times per week.
Asokan, S., Rathan, J., Muthu, M., Rathna, P.V., Emmadi, P., Raghuraman, Chamundeswari (2008). Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Journal of the Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventative Dentistry, 26(1), 12.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (2018). Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) in Adults (Age 20 to 64). Dental Caries. Retrieved July 8, 2018 from https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/research/data-statistics/dental-caries/adults
Peedikayil, F. C., Sreenivasan, P., & Narayanan, A. (2015). Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis — A preliminary report. Nigerian Medical Journal : Journal of the Nigeria Medical Association, 56(2), 143–147. http://doi.org/10.4103/0300-1652.153406