Oil pulling – you may have heard of it before, but you likely never knew that it’s one of the oldest dental health remedies still used today. Rooted in Ayurvedic medicine, oil pulling is a technique that dates back 3,000 years, and many people continue to swear by it. The reported benefits include everything from whiter teeth, to helping gingivitis, plaque, and microorganisms that cause bad breath. The method is simple, recent studies have proven the results. It’s a trend that never went out of style.

Despite how long its been around, there’s little information out there about how oil pulling works. The method is claimed to pull bacteria from the mouth, by swishing oil around for several seconds – just as you would with mouthwash. To get the best results, most people oil pull every day. All that’s required is a single tablespoon of coconut, sesame, olive or sunflower oil – and several minutes of your time.

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This is the common step by step process of oil pulling:

  1. Measure one tablespoon of oil.
  2. Gently swish it around in your mouth for several minutes, without swallowing any.
  3. Spit the oil into the trash, instead of a sink or toilet to avoid clogging the pipes.
  4. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water before eating or drinking.


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According to WebMD, the lauric acid in coconut oil contains anti-microbial agents that are proven to fight bacteria and even tooth decay. Any oil, however, is a viscous substance – swishing it around in your mouth for up to 10 minutes a day can be hard on your jaw. That’s why experts suggest gently swishing, pushing, and sucking the oil through the teeth, to avoid strain. You may also want to start with a half tablespoon and up the amount gradually.

The anti-inflammatory properties found in these household oils are also known to reduce inflammation in the gums, often associated with gingivitis. In one study, 60 participants with gingivitis had reduced amounts of plaque and improved gum health after oil pulling with coconut oil for 30 days. Other research also indicates that oil pulling decreases the number of harmful bacteria found in saliva and plaque, and prevents cavities almost as effectively as mouthwash. But, overall, it’s important to note that the scientifically proven benefits of oil pulling are relatively limited.

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But, let’s make one thing clear. By no means should oil pulling ever be a substitute to brushing and flossing. Oil pulling is nothing more than an enhancement to your daily routine, an extra step in the process to keeping your smile in optimal shape. The bottom line is that, while oil pulling may have some proven oral health benefits over time, brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and regular flossing are the primary ingredients for longlasting oral health. And, of course, your bi-annual dental checkups and cleanings.