oil pulling


Dear Dr. Shetty,

Some of my friends have told me about oil pulling. They say that it’s an ancient medical practice that can keep your teeth, mouth and gums healthy. Should I try oil pulling, and can it improve my oral health?

If you follow alternative medicine sources or have friends who care about all-natural healthcare, you may have encountered oil pulling. Practitioners of oil pulling say that it has huge benefits, such as removing bacteria from your mouth. But does science back them up?

But First, What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is an ancient medical practice from India. People preserve dental health by swishing an edible oil, such as sesame or coconut oil, in their mouths for up to 20 minutes each day.

Studies suggest that oil pulling can improve oral health, kill bacteria, and even reduce inflammation and prevent cavities.

Oil Pulling: An All-natural Alternative to Mouthwash

According to the Cleveland Clinic, oil pulling has many of the same benefits as mouthwash. When practiced every day, oil pulling can:

  • Reduce levels of the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease
  • Prevent or alleviate gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease
  • Reduce inflammation and prevent plaque buildup
  • Improve overall oral health

Because the practice reduces inflammation and bacteria, it can help prevent plaque and keep your teeth clean. It may also prevent some of the whole-body sicknesses that can be caused by inflamed gums and oral bacteria, so it’s a healthy habit to add to your dental regimen. It’s especially good for people who don’t want to use commercial mouthwashes due to the chemicals.

oil pulling

Are there Any Drawbacks to Oil Pulling?

There are a few things to keep in mind before you start using oil pulling for oral hygiene. First of all, it can replace mouthwash, but not proper regular brushing and flossing, or dental visits. To get good results from oil pulling, continue brushing and flossing daily.

Stay alert for allergies as well. Sesame and coconut are both common allergies, and some people are allergic to both. If oil pulling makes your mouth feel itchy or causes swelling, stop and talk to your dentist or doctor about alternative treatments.

To get the full benefits from oil pulling, you should swish the oil for 20 minutes every day. However, it’s possible to do it less often if your schedule doesn’t allow daily oil pulling.

oil pulling

How to Do Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is incredibly simple to do and easy to add to your normal daily routine.

  1. Start by measuring about 1 tablespoon of coconut or sesame oil.
  2. Swish it around in your mouth for about 20 minutes (some people like to start out with just 5 minutes a day, gradually working up to 20 minutes). Be sure to be careful not to swallow any of the oil.
  3. Spit the oil into the trash once you’re done and rinse your mouth well.
  4. For the greatest benefit, practice oil-pulling every day, first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything.

oil pulling

Dr. Shetty’s Advice

Dr. Shetty agrees that oil pulling supports a biological approach to good nutrition for oral health. She suggests starting with 5 minutes a day and gradually working your way up to 20 minutes.

For the greatest benefit, you should practice oil-pulling when you first wake up in the morning, before breakfast. Coconut oil is superior to sesame oil because it has natural anti-bacterial properties.

Remember, oil pulling can’t substitute for brushing, flossing, or trips to the dentist every six months. It’s still a great all-natural habit to add to your daily routine.

Remember, if you have questions about which dental hygiene practices are right for you, you can always ask Dr. Shetty or her team at your appointments. We’re here to support your good health!