Updated: 2/3/2020 Oil pulling has eluded dentists for some time now, but it’s acquiring popularity among patients, who continue to go on and on about what it’s doing for their…

Why Oil Pulling Isn’t as Bad as You Think

Updated: 2/3/2020

Oil pulling has eluded dentists for some time now, but it’s acquiring popularity among patients, who continue to go on and on about what it’s doing for their teeth and gums.

It’s an oral health trend that has taken the Web by storm over the past several months and doesn’t look like it will be disappearing anytime soon. Debates surrounding the trend cover an array of questions: is it actually good for you, are people practicing the method doing so correctly, should dentists get on board with this trending home treatment?

Then, there are readers questioning the method simply for the amount of time it takes every day to practice.

Here, we’ll go through the basics of oil pulling, see what the experts are saying and offer you some creative ways to implement this into your daily routine.

What Is Oil Pulling?

This latest trend is actually an ancient remedy for oral health that dates back nearly 3,000 years. It’s Ayurvedic, which is native to India.

Oil pulling is essentially swishing pure oils in the mouth for about 10 to 15 minutes. And yes, that’s minutes! Doing this pulls fungus, harmful bacteria and other organisms out of the mouth and throat. For that reason, it’s important not to swallow any of the oil while swishing.

How Effective Is It?

Several studies were done on oil pulling back in 2007 and 2008. In 2007, a study was done on the effect of oil pulling using sunflower oil. The results showed that after 45 days of consistent oil pulling, patients had a significant decrease in gingivitis. Then, in 2008, another study found a decrease in the total amount of bacteria found in the mouth as a result of oil pulling. (Source: https://www.foodmatters.tv/articles-1/oil-pulling-the-habit-that-can-transform-your-health)

More studies are sure to be on the way as this trend continues to increase in popularity.

And while these studies are significant, the personal accounts from those who practice oil pulling have had the biggest impact on this new, natural oral health method. Some say it’s helped whiten their teeth, others have said it’s made their teeth and gums less sensitive and many have said this method has helped get rid of their bad breath.

Word of Caution: Oil pulling should not be used to supersede your regular dental practices—brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing and taking regular trips to the dentist.

What Do the Experts Say?

There is some debate among experts regarding oil pulling.  Most aren’t really sure what to make of this latest trend. Despite that, all would agree that oil pulling can’t hurt you—if you’re doing it correctly.

“Doing it correctly” doesn’t refer to a certain technique you should use. Experts advise all who practice oil pulling to not let it replace your regular dental routine. You should still be brushing and flossing your teeth every day and going to your routine dental checkups. You should also know that oil pulling does not reverse tooth decay or other dental ailments. It can help prevent tooth decay and soothe aching gums and teeth, but it doesn’t get rid of the tooth decay.

Experts also advise those who practice oil pulling to not swish the oil for too long. While many who practice oil pulling recommend swishing oil for 20 minutes, some experts would say that amount of time is too long. Their concern is that you could accidentally breathe some into your lungs, which could negatively affect your health. Stick to three to 10 minutes every day.

How Do You Practice Oil Pulling?

Step 1: Pick out the oil you want to use. There are a lot of differing opinions about which oil is more effective (sesame oil or coconut oil), but either will do the job well enough. Some people even use sunflower oil or olive oil. You can also try alternating oils every couple of days to change it up.

Step 2: Swish the oil. Take between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of the oil of your choice and swish it around in your mouth. If you have trouble resisting the urge to swallow it, use less oil.

Step 3: Keep swishing. As mentioned above, most people who practice oil pulling swish the oil for 10 to 20 minutes, but as a beginner you should start with five minutes and work your way up. Again, experts advise not going the full 20 minutes, whether beginner or not.

Step 4: Spit out the oil. Don’t swallow any of the oil. You don’t want to swallow the bacteria you’re pulling. Spit it into the trash when you’re done swishing. You don’t want the oil clogging up your sinks or toilets.

Step 5: Rinse your mouth with water. Make sure you rinse out your mouth after swishing the oil, especially before eating or drinking anything. It may also be a good idea to brush your teeth afterward if you’re looking to get rid of the oil taste in your mouth.

Step 6: Repeat. Repeat this method every day.

Creative Ways to Work Oil Pulling into Your Daily Routine

Find it hard to imagine swishing oil for 10 minutes at a time? Distract yourself with some multi-tasking. Here are some ideas:

  • Take a shower while you swish the oil
  • Read the paper
  • Watch TV
  • Fix your lunch
  • Do laundry
  • Check your email
  • Take out the trash
  • Read a book


In what ways has oil pulling helped you?


Natasha is 1Dental’s managing editor and copywriter, focusing content on dental and health news, advice and tips straight from the experts. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and has since been a book editor and now copywriter and managing editor on dental and health. You can find her on Twitter and all of 1Dental’s social networks.

1 Comment
  1. I have been oil pulling for few months after i floss and brush at night. I use extra virgin olive oil has really pleasant taste. It helps keep my teeth whiter. I also encounter canker sores and has helped to prevent these out breaks which can be very painful. 20 minutes goes by fast and I am able to catch up on things at the end of the day when silence is needed.

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