Oil Pulling Benefits: Everything About Coconut Oil Pulling

Sep/01/2021 / by KT Hall
oil pulling benefits
Image credits: Christin Hume via Unsplash

If you’ve ever suffered from dental problems, severe headaches or heart-related problems, you might want to consider oil pulling. Oil pulling is actually a way to use oil as a mouthwash. It can reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth as well as bacteria and plaque around the gums and teeth. One of the reasons oil pulling works is it’s a natural flossing method that’s part of Ayurvedic medicine.

Gaining popularity in the US, oil pulling can whiten your teeth, reduce bad breath and even reduce tooth decay. Here are details about oil pulling, oil pulling benefits, which oils work best and tips on how to oil pull effectively.

Dental Care for Our Ancestors

People often think that oral care or brushing our teeth always existed. However, the nylon bristle toothbrush didn’t become popular until the 1930s. What’s more, people didn’t start flossing regularly until the past few decades (and some still don’t!).

Archaeological research suggests that the teeth of our ancestors were intact. They maintained their teeth with chew sticks. Chew sticks were actually found in Egypt in tombs from 3000 B.C. 

Our savvy ancestors didn’t have toothpaste or antiseptic rinses and yet they preserved their teeth.

The most obvious reason our ancestors didn’t have rotten teeth is they didn’t have soda and candy. It’s likely that the natural diet rich in grains, vegetables and fruit were contributing factors. Processed foods and acid from soda are what destroy tooth enamel.  

Exploring Oil Pulling

Oil pulling or Gandusha started in ancient India when it was used predominantly with Ayurvedic medicine. Based on a study from the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, oil pulling as a natural health solution can cure over 30 different diseases.

Over the years people in the United States started adapting this holistic practice as oral detoxification. Because it purifies the system, oil pulling is more than a dental rinse. Parts of the tongue are tied to different organs and this is comparable to reflexology. These include the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, stomach, colon, spine and small intestines.

How Does Oil Pulling Work?

With oil pulling or oil gargling, you simply take a tablespoon of coconut, sesame or olive oil, or another type of oil and swish it through your mouth. It’s not as easy to rinse through the teeth as mouthwash given the thicker consistency. Hence, novices might feel a TMJ effect or jaw tightness from the pressure. However, swishing for 10 to 20 minutes at a time can serve as a detoxing effect.

Oil pulling can remove bacteria, mucus, pus and other toxins in the mouth and form a clean and antiseptic barrier that reduces diseases and cavities. As an example, let’s say that you need dental work but can’t afford to go to the dentist. Oil pulling might be a temporary solution.

Oil Pulling Benefits

When you require dental work like if you have cavities or need a root canal or have broken teeth and bleeding gums, this creates an area where bacteria can thrive. What’s more, the bacteria that come into the mouth can affect your heart health. It’s why some dentists prescribe antibiotics before doing root canals. They know that there’s a lot of bacteria that they will be removing and don’t want you to swallow it.

Because it draws the toxins out of your mouth, oil pulling benefits might surprise you!

The oil pulling benefits list include:

  • Boost your immune system
  • Prevent heart disease and cavities
  • Reduce gum inflammation, acne, hangovers, sinus problems and sleep disorders
  • Reduce the need for medication and surgery
  • Resolve bad breath microbes (halitosis, odor malodor), candida and throat dryness
  • Resolve tooth decay, plaque in those with gingivitis (due to the lauric acid)
  • Strengthen your jaws and gums and reduce TMJ
  • Treat and heal bleeding gums and cracked lips
  • Whiten your teeth and resolve some migraines

Best Oils for Oil Pulling

Maybe you’re asking which oil is best for oil pulling? While the most popular oil for oil pulling is coconut, there are other oils that you can use. From sesame and sunflower oil to olive oil and essential oils, they each offer different benefits.

Coconut Oil Pulling Benefits

The benefits of oil pulling with coconut oil are numerous. Coconut oil, especially the unrefined version, is one of the best oils to fight harmful bacteria in the mouth. It also doesn’t include additives or other unnatural ingredients. Additionally, because it includes lauric acid, it has special antimicrobial properties and studies have shown that it can fight gingivitis and streptococcus mutans. It can reduce tooth decay in the mouth and remove bacteria. Other oils that you can pull with include sunflower oil and sesame oil.

Essential Oils Benefits

Essential oils are often used to scent candles or to make massage oils when combined with a carrier to dilute them. Because they’re so strong, they carry antifungal and antibacterial agents that can help with your oil pulling. The body also benefits because some of the essential oil gets absorbed into the oral mucosa and saliva even though you’re not swallowing it. The result is you have a powerful antioxidant that fights certain diseases.

To use essential oils in your morning regimen, start with a tablespoon of coconut oil and add up to 3 drops of peppermint oil, lemon oil and orange oil. If you have a cold or infection, instead of the 3 aforementioned essential oils, add tea tree oil, cinnamon oil and clove oil.

Tips on Oil Pulling

Maybe you’re wondering how often should you oil pull? One of the easiest ways to start oil pulling is to only initially rinse for about 5-minutes. Swish gently because you don’t want your jaws to get tired or lock up.

Start with 5-Minutes and Gradually Increase

Remember, the oil’s consistency is thicker than mouthwash so it’s harder to get it to move through the teeth but your mouth will warm the oil.

Hence, start with 5-minutes and then gradually build your way to swishing for about 20-minutes. The more you swish, the more bacteria that’s “pulled” from the mouth.

Pull Gently, Not Forcibly

Another point that can help is don’t initially try to pull the oil through the teeth. Again, it’s a thicker consistency but the longer it’s in your mouth and affected by your body temperature, it becomes looser and easier to suck through your teeth. So, do it gently and don’t force it. 

If you were to spit out the oil, you might also notice that the consistency changes. It goes from clear to milky or cloudy after 10-15 minutes as your saliva waters it down. Hence about 20 minutes worth of swishing can remove a lot of bacteria. 

Don’t Swallow the Oil or Spit it Out in the Sink

When swishing the oil, only use a tablespoonful and don’t swallow it. If you find that you are swallowing some of the oil, use a smaller amount like 2 teaspoonfuls or 1. When you’re ready to spit the oil out, don’t spit it into your sink. Oil can clog the pipes especially once you start running the cold water again. Spit the oil into a paper towel or napkin and dispose of it in the trash can.

Add Oil Pulling to Your Morning Routine

As you practice oil pulling, remember that it’s not a replacement for brushing your teeth and flossing. Continue your oral routine and schedule regular dental appointments.

Oil pulling is a supplemental solution and you can add it to your morning routine. It’s best to do it in the morning when your stomach is empty. You can alternatively do it any time of the day or night when you have an empty stomach.

People who do oil pulling tend to see a difference after a few weeks or a month. They may notice that their breath is better and their gums look healthier and not swollen. They might also not see bleeding gums when they brush their teeth.


Does oil pulling detox your body?

Yes, research has shown that it can fight 30 different diseases because it removes harmful bacteria from our mouths. The microorganisms help us digest food but plaque also exists in the mouth on the teeth and can lead to gum disease and halitosis.

Harmful microorganisms are single-celled and have a fatty membrane or lipid that covers them. Meaning it blocks your body’s natural defenses but with oil pulling, oil molecules attach to the lipid and can remove it when you spit the solution out. Hence, the 20-minutes of swishing are important.

Does oil pulling really work?

Yes, oil pulling has been around for thousands of years and is a way to preserve the teeth, gums and mouth while also fighting off different diseases. Swishing with 1 tablespoon of coconut, sesame or sunflower oil for 20-minutes a day can reduce plaque, gingivitis, headaches, sinus conditions and even heart disease as there’s less harmful bacteria going through the bloodstream and into the heart.

Why is oil pulling bad for you?

While oil pulling is not bad, it does have certain side effects. It might drain your sinuses or open the mucous in your nose and throat. You might also experience TMJ like jaw pain if you swish too hard. Hence, it’s best to swish gently and build up gradually from 5-minutes to 20-minutes. In some, oil pulling might make them gag but it’s likely they’re using too much oil so go from 1 tablespoon to only 1 or 2 teaspoons and warm the oil gently so it’s thinner. Some pregnant women oil pull as you’re pulling toxins out of the body but always consult a physician before starting any new regimen.

How often should I oil pull?

Oil pulling can be done a few times a week. Some even oil pull in the morning and add it to their daily oral routine. Start with swishing for 5-minutes and then gradually increase to 20-minutes.

Can I do oil pulling at night?

Oil pulling is safe at night. However, it needs to be done on an empty stomach. It’s easier in the morning or during the day as you need about 20-minutes to complete it.


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