6 Possible Benefits Of Oil Pulling And How To Do It

benefits of oil pulling

The Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita mentions kavalagraha or oil pulling as a part of oral hygiene maintenance. This traditional Indian technique of filling the mouth with oil and swishing it around for a while before spitting it out is used to prevent tooth decay, bad breath, bleeding gums, and cracked lips.

A variation of oil pulling known as gandusha is also used in Ayurveda for oral cleansing. Gandusha involves completely filling your mouth with oil and spitting it out after a short while. This is a noteworthy difference from kavalagraha, where the mouth is not completely filled with oil and there is space for the oil to be swished around before it is spat out.


Though sesame oil is generally considered to be the best option for oil pulling, other edible oils like coconut and sunflower oil are also used.

Let’s take a look at how the benefits of oil pulling for oral health.


1. Reduces Plaque And Treats Gum Diseases

Ever noticed a creamy deposit on your teeth along the gum line a few hours after a meal? This sticky, odorous substance called plaque is a film of bacteria working on the leftovers of your food and your saliva. If not removed on time, plaque solidifies to form tartar, which then goes on to cause tooth decay and cavities.

Plaque can also cause gingivitis, leaving you with swollen, inflamed, and bleeding gums. Left untreated, gingivitis can damage your jaw bone and harm the tissues that hold your teeth in place, causing them to fall out.


Research has looked into the effectiveness of oil pulling as a treatment. One particular study involved two groups – one that used oil pulling and another that used chlorhexidine, an antimicrobial mouthwash designed to treat gum disease. For 10 days, the oil pulling group rinsed with sesame oil for 10 to 15 minutes. The other group rinsed with chlorhexidine for 1 minute before brushing their teeth in the morning.

It was found that oil pulling was just as effective as chlorhexidine. To top it off, it did not have the side effects like stained teeth and altered taste associated with chlorhexidine.1


[expert_opinion expertname=’janellecasella’ opinion=”The oil acts as a cleanser pulling toxins out of our mouths and bodies that we accumulate from everyday life. Although 20 minutes a day might seem daunting, it is easy if you do it in conjunction with another task. I do it while I am making the kids’ lunch for school each morning. If I don’t have time for the full 20 minutes, I at least do 10. If I need an extra boost of immune support, I add doTERRA Essential Oils depending on the issue. Lemon if I’m fighting a cold, clove if I’m having mouth issues, and oregano for swollen glands.”]

2. Kills Bacteria That Cause Tooth Decay

Tooth decay can damage the structure of your teeth, leading to pain, tooth loss, and infection. Luckily, oil pulling may protect your teeth. According to a study, bacteria in the mouth was reduced by an average of 20% after using sesame oil for 40 days. In some cases, there was a 33.4% reduction also. This is because sesame oil has antibacterial activity against Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacilli acidophilus, which are known to cause dental carries.


The participants’ susceptibility to dental carries also reduced remarkably, with 50% dropping from high risk to slight risk. The other 50% went from marked to moderate risk.2 Other edible oils like coconut and sunflower oil have also been found to be effective against oral microorganisms.3

3. Helps Get Rid Of Bad Breath

Bad breath is a common problem that affects 1 in 4 people.4 Bacteria produces toxins and breaks down food particles, causing an unpleasant smell. Thankfully, oil pulling can get rid of that stink. A study found that it was as effective as chlorhexidine in reducing bad breath and eliminating associated bacteria (T. denticola, P. gingivalis, and B. forsythus).5


4. Takes Care Of Dry Mouth

According to research, oil pulling can also help a dry mouth. This can happen when you’re dehydrated or nervous. It can also occur if you have a blocked nose, forcing you to breathe through your mouth, or a condition like diabetes. Radiotherapy to the neck or head can also leave you with a dry mouth as it can inflame salivary glands.6 A study that observed dry mouth relief in radiotherapy patients with cancer of the head and neck found that oil pulling was as effective as using artificial saliva.7

5. May Help Whiten Teeth

Oil pulling with coconut oil may be an effective way to whiten your teeth at home. While there hasn’t been any study till date to back this use, most users swear by coconut oil’s teeth-whitening property. It is thought that the lauric acid in coconut oil can help fight the bacteria responsible for the yellowing of teeth. Here’s a look at a few other natural home remedies to whiten teeth.


[expert_opinion expertname=’janellecasella’ opinion=”The active ingredient in teeth whitening is Carbamide Peroxide, a peroxide-bleaching agent. Teeth whiteners are not classified as drugs; therefore the FDA does not regulate them. Pregnant and lactating women should not use a teeth whitening substances. It is also not recommended for people under the age of 13. Most common side effects are gum sensitivity and tissue irritation if swallowed.”]

6. May Help With Lichen Planus

While there hasn’t been any study to establish the healing effect of coconut oil pulling on oral lichen planus yet, many patients have reported significant improvement to complete cure. Lichen planus is an itchy rash that can appear in different parts of the body. While the exact causes of lichen planus are not known, some cases could be caused by an autoimmune reaction, a hepatitis C infection, or an allergic reaction to the mercury in amalgam dental filings.

Better Health All Around

[expert_opinion expertname=’sheetalsuvarna’ opinion=”Coconut oil pulling acts as a coolant and relieves mouth ulcers, improves voice quality, and heals bleeding gums. Its moisturizing property heals chapped lips as well as dryness of mouth. It also assists in getting rid of bad breath.”]

Aside from improving dental health, oil pulling is thought to have even larger benefits. Ayurveda considers it to be a rejuvenating treatment that can enhance your senses, invigorate your mind, help with loss of taste, improve impaired vision, and provide a feeling of freshness and clarity, when used regularly.8

Oil pulling is also considered to be beneficial for a range of disorders, from asthma to diabetes.9 According to Ayurveda, toxins (ama) are pulled out of the body during oil pulling.

Experts agree that oil pulling removes harmful germs and waste products that lead to dental problems and also stresses out the immune system, causing inflammation. It is thought that some of these benefits attributed to oil pulling could be due to its detoxifying effects.10

How To Do Oil Pulling

While the American Dental Association does not yet recommend oil pulling as a standard practice, you can use oil pulling to supplement your oral hygiene routine. Oils like coconut oil and sesame oil have plenty of benefits, and unless you swallow them, there are no side effects. All the exercise your mouth gets can also help relieve the pain associated with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) as many users have claimed. Oil pulling can be done up to 3 times a day. Ayurveda has specific instructions on how to oil pull.

  • For best results, do it early in the morning on an empty stomach.
  • Sit down comfortably with your chin up.
  • Take a tablespoon of sesame oil into your mouth.
  • Suck and pull it between your teeth for 10 to 15 minutes. This will turn the viscous oil thin and milky white.
  • Spit the oil out, taking care to not swallow it. The oil now contains bacteria and toxins, after all. Don’t spit in your sink; the oil could clog it up.
  • Follow up by brushing and rinsing as usual.

[expert_opinion expertname=’katiehussong’ opinion=”Remember that you can always start with just a few minutes and build up over time. Try doing it while you’re taking a shower – or watching television. This helps to pass the time quickly.”]

Keep in mind that oil pulling is not advised for children below 5 years due to the danger of swallowing or choking. Also, remember that each child is different. If you feel that your child won’t be able to manage the process, don’t attempt it even if they are over 5 years of age.