Oil Pulling: Uses and Benefits

oil pulling

Oil Pulling is an ancient oral technique famous for its teeth whitening and dental hygiene benefits.

People have been using it for years to clear bacteria and plaque inside their mouths.

However, there is less evidence of its efficacy in improving oral health.

The most popular oils in use for this purpose are:

  • Coconut oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Sesame Oil

While coconut oil is most widely used for this purpose, some may also use olive oil to reduce inflammation.

This article discusses the uses, benefits and side effects of this technique. Keep reading to know if you should try it to whiten your teeth.

what is oil pulling

Oil Pulling Uses

This is a very simple technique to keep your teeth white.

It involves using a tablespoon of oil and swishing it in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes.

If you choose oil pulling with coconut oil then you will have to melt it first as it is solid at room temperature.

Plus, it is a popular choice because it is highly absorbable.

It can reduce inflammation and is also effective in fighting the bacteria Streptococcus mutans.

In fact, it is as good as the Chlorhexidine Mouthwash in clearing this bacteria in the mouth.

This bacteria is mainly responsible for building up and causing a biofilm known as plaque in your teeth.

Furthermore, it contains lauric acid that has anti-bacterial properties.

Extra virgin coconut oil also has fatty acids and a pleasant taste that is easier to swish around in the mouth.

oil pulling use


  1. Melt the coconut oil.
  2. Take a tablespoon of it.
  3. Place it in your mouth and keep swishing for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Spit it in the bin.
  5. Rinse

The fatty acids in the oil work to dissolve the bacteria on your teeth.

Hence, it entraps them and removes them from your teeth.

Remember, to not swallow it rather spit it immediately when you are done.

The oil contains harmful bacteria which can get inside your stomach and lead to diarrhea.

Furthermore, spit it in the bin rather than the sink.

Spitting in the sink will work for sesame and sunflower oil but coconut oil is solid at room temperature.

Hence, it will solidify and clog your drainage system.

So, to prevent all this trouble, keep a bin nearby and spit the oil after use there.

You can do this several times a week as it is generally safe.

Moreover, it also has numerous benefits. Let’s find out about them below!



The biggest benefit of doing oil pulling with sesame oil and other products is that it removes bacteria.

As it entraps the harmful bacteria on a regular basis, you can get rid of and prevent many other oral health problems.

Besides removing bacteria, the oil pulling benefits list is:

  • Teeth Whitening
  • Decreases Bad Breath
  • Prevents cavities
  • Prevents gingivitis
  • Easy to perform

Removes Harmful Bacteria

This technique promotes oral health by removing Streptococcus mutans and other harmful bacteria from your mouth.

Why are these bacteria considered harmful?

Well, that is because they can cause serious oral health problems in your mouth ranging from tooth decay, gingivitis to severe periodontal disease.

Hence, the 700 types of bacteria inside your mouth are not great for your health.

It involves swishing the oil which helps to entrap the bacteria inside and reduce it in the saliva and plaque.

In fact, doing it only for 10 minutes daily can noticeably reduce S. mutans in the saliva in only two weeks’ time.

The results are quite similar to using an anti-bacterial mouthwash.

The anti-microbial properties in the oil work to eliminate the bacteria and provide you a cleaner mouth.

Though, this does not compensate for brushing and flossing.

These are crucial steps to remove plaque and oil pulling can complement it at best.

Having some bacteria and plaque is normal, however, more of it can lead to cavities and gum disease.

More on that below!

dentist checking gingivitis

Preventing Cavities, Gingivitis

The bacteria inside the mouth accumulate on the teeth and form plaque.

Plaque on teeth can harden and become calculus which is harder to remove.

Moreover, it contains bacteria, saliva and food particles that can attach to your teeth.

Once the bacteria start breaking down the food, it produces acid which erodes the enamel and weakens it causing decay.

Bacteria also feed on and break down sugary and acidic foods.

The decay then leads to holes in teeth which is a cavity.

Moreover, the bacteria inside the plaque cause inflammation and bleeding.

Hence, your gums may bleed, swell and become red, a condition known as gingivitis.

Coconut oil is especially good in reducing inflammation and so is sesame oil.

In two studies one using coconut oil on 60 participants and the other using sesame oil and mouthwash on 20 participants showed a significant decrease in S.mutans after a short period of time.

Hence, the anti-inflammatory properties in these oils help to reduce the bacteria.

As a result, your immune system does not attack it which causes inflammation.

Therefore, the swelling, redness and bleeding all decrease because of this procedure.

As the number of bacteria reduces, the chances of decay and forming a cavity also decrease significantly.

Hence, this method is effective in reducing your chances of getting cavities and gingivitis.

teeth whitening result

Reducing Bad Breath and Contributing to Teeth Whitening

One of the reasons behind bad breath or halitosis is the bacteria in your mouth.

They stick to the tongue and are trapped there.

Hence, whenever you speak, you smell bad.

Other reasons behind your bad breath can be gum disease or an infection.

If you do not take care of your oral health then bacteria accumulates in the mouth too.

Typically, you can get rid of it by brushing, flossing and using a mouthwash, however, oil pulling also reduces bacteria.

Therefore, it can get rid of bacteria on your tongue as well as that which causes gingivitis.

According to a study, sesame oil works as well as an antiseptic mouthwash.

Hence, you will no longer smell bad if you use this technique daily.

Furthermore, it is a teeth whitening remedy.

While it is best to remove stains at a teeth whitening medical center, you can see some results through this technique too.

Since this method removes bacteria from plaque, it helps remove some surface stains by pulling them and keeps your teeth white.

The action of swishing helps to trap bacteria in the oil, hence there is less plaque and lesser stains.

Especially, if you do it daily.

Though, there is less evidence on this yet.

However, if you cannot go to teeth whitening clinics Sharjah, you can use this method to keep your mouth clean and stain-free.

Another belief says that it helps to detox the mouth by removing toxins, though with no evidence.

This method is very convenient and easy to use.

All you need is oil available in your kitchen and 20 minutes to spare.

You may see better results if you do this on an empty stomach alongside your brushing teeth routine.

Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

Olive oil has strong anti-inflammatory properties whereas sesame fights bacteria well too.

Hence, using any of these can be beneficial.

Moreover, as they are generally safe then you will not have to worry about any consequences.

Though are there are side effects? Let’s discuss this below!

side effects of oil pulling

Oil Pulling Side Effects

Though oil pulling does show evidence in reducing plaque, there is still less research on how it helps with whitening, bad breath and gingivitis.

Therefore, you should use it with caution.

It is at best an ancient remedy that gets some praise through word of mouth.

That is why it has been passed down to several generations.

Hence, it does not have an ADA seal of approval and can’t guarantee success.

However, the procedure is generally safe.

Unless you have an allergy to one of the ingredients, it does not cause any severe harm.

You may have a coconut or coconut oil allergy so proceed with caution.

If you plan to use this technique, make sure you do not forget about your allergies.

Another important thing to be mindful of is to spit the oil and not accidentally swallow it.

You swish it in your mouth for a good 20 minutes and can impulsively swallow it.

However, that will cause you diarrhea as this oil is full of harmful bacteria.

They are neither good for your teeth nor for your stomach.

Next, you can jaw pain and headache if you begin swishing vigorously.

Do not move the oil around your mouth harshly as soon your teeth and jaws will start hurting.

In fact, it is better, to begin with only 5 minutes and then slowly proceed till 20 minutes once you have a hang of the technique.


It is important to remember that oil pulling does not substitute brushing and flossing.

While it can help reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth and prevent several oral diseases and problems, it is still a remedy with less proven evidence of efficacy.

Therefore, add it to your routine alongside the basics of flossing teeth and brushing and reap its benefits.





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