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Benefits of oil pulling with coconut oil

Last reviewed Wed 21 November 2018 Last reviewed Wed 21 Nov 2018

By Kat Gál

Reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT

Table of contents

Overview

Benefits

Risks and considerations

How to do an oil pull

Takeaway

If you buy something through a link on this page, we may earn a small commission. How this works.

Oil pulling is a natural folk remedy from India that involves swishing oil in the mouth. It has become
increasingly popular in other regions for its purported health benefits.

Oil pulling with coconut oil is easy to fit into a regular oral health routine. Coconut oil is available at
grocery stores and online, and people do not need any additional ingredients.

In this article, learn about what oil pulling is, how to do oil pulling with coconut oil, and about the
possible benefits and risks.

What is oil pulling?


Benefits of oil pulling include killing harmful bacteria in the mouth and preventing cavities.
Oil pulling is an oral health routine that involves swishing oil around in the mouth in a similar way to
mouthwash, but for a much more extended period.

Coconut oil is a highly absorbable oil with several health benefits, including reducing inflammation and
fighting harmful bacteria. It is also edible, so has few risks for oral use.

Most supporters of oil pulling recommend swishing a tablespoon of oil in the mouth for 15–20 minutes
to reduce harmful bacteria in the mouth and on the teeth.

Benefits

Benefits of oil pulling with coconut oil may include:

Killing harmful bacteria in the mouth

The mouth contains hundreds of bacteria, some of which are harmful and may lead to tooth decay, bad
breath, and gum disease.

According to a 2016 study on 60 participants, oil pulling can reduce the number of bacteria found in the
saliva and can help support proper oral hygiene. The authors stated that coconut oil was a safe
alternative to chlorhexidine, which is an ingredient in some mouthwashes.

Reducing bad breath

Bad breath is generally due to poor oral hygiene, tongue coating, infection, or gum disease as a result of
bacteria buildup.

According to a 2011 study, oil pulling may be an effective natural alternative for bad breath and may
work as well as traditional treatment with chlorhexidine.

Preventing cavities

Cavities stem from tooth decay as a result of bacteria buildup, poor oral hygiene, and consuming too
much sugar.

Plaque can also cause cavities by forming a coating of bacteria, saliva, and food particles on the teeth
that can damage the enamel.

According to 2016 research, oil pulling may decrease the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth,
possibly helping to prevent cavities. In addition to brushing and flossing, this can be another way to
achieve optimal oral health.

Reducing inflammation and improving gum health

The bacteria in plaque may lead to gingivitis, which is a common gum disease characterized by red,
swollen, and inflamed gums that bleed easily.

Research suggests that coconut oil can reduce inflammation. This may benefit oral health and
inflammation in the mouth.
According to a small 2015 study, oil pulling with coconut oil reduced plaque and could help prevent
plaque-induced gingivitis.

Six natural ways to whiten teeth

Learn about other ways to whiten teeth naturally here.

Read now

Whitening teeth

Although there is no scientific evidence to confirm that oil pulling can whiten teeth, anecdotal evidence
suggests it may clear stains from the surface of the teeth. There is little risk in trying to whiten teeth in
this way.

Risks and considerations

It is not safe for people with allergies to coconuts or coconut oil to try this technique. Otherwise, there
are no known risks for oil pulling with coconut oil.

Oil pulling does not replace brushing one's teeth, flossing, and other oral care techniques.

How to do an oil pull

After an oil pull, spit coconut oil into the garbage and not into the sink or toilet.

To do an oil pull with coconut oil, place a tablespoon of coconut oil in the mouth. Those who do not like
the taste of coconut oil can use other oils, such as sesame oil or olive oil.

Sit upright and swish the coconut oil around the mouth for 15–20 minutes. People who have difficulty
keeping the coconut oil in their mouth for this length of time can start with 5 or 10 minutes and slowly
increase the duration. It is essential to keep swishing and to breathe through the nose.

Once done, spit the oil in the garbage. Avoid spitting into the sink or toilet, as it can lead to clogging. Do
not swallow the coconut oil.

Most recommendations suggest brushing the teeth immediately after an oil pull. However, some people
believe that it is better not to brush right away to allow the retention of good bacteria and the
rebalancing of the oral microbiome.

Either way, proponents recommend using a separate toothbrush after oil pulling to the one used for
daily teeth cleaning.

Takeaway
Existing scientific studies support some benefits of oil pulling with coconut oil, but there is not enough
evidence to determine whether it is effective.

However, oil pulling is a simple, affordable, and generally safe technique to add to an existing oral health
routine.

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Is coconut oil a laxative?Coconut oil has many different uses. Nutritionally, it is considered healthful in
moderate amounts, so may be worth a try to relieve constipation. However, any evidence that coconut
oil works for constipation is anecdotal. Learn more about coconut oil for constipation and some other
lifestyle changes that may help. Read now

What are the possible benefits of MCT oil?Are all fats bad? Some studies suggest that certain fats, such
as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) may offer health benefits. In this article, we examine the potential
uses and health benefits of MCT oils, including coconut oil and butter. We also take a look at natural
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What are the advantages of oral chemotherapy?Oral chemotherapy in the form of pills, liquids, or
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a clinic as frequently, while disadvantages include the risk of making dosing errors when taking the
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eczema, other benefits, and risks.Read now

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Additional information

Article last reviewed by Wed 21 November 2018.

Visit our Complementary Medicine / Alternative Medicine category page for the latest news on this
subject, or sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest updates on Complementary Medicine /
Alternative Medicine.

All references are available in the References tab.

References

This content requires JavaScript to be enabled.<br/><br/>

Asokan, S., Kumar, R. S., Emmadi, P., Raghuraman, R., & Sivakumar, N. (2011, September 9) Effect of oil
pulling on halitosis and microorganisms causing halitosis: A randomized controlled pilot trial. Journal of
Indian Society Pedodontics and Preventative Dentistry, 29(2), 90–94. Retrieved from
http://www.jisppd.com/article.asp?issn=0970-
4388;year=2011;volume=29;issue=2;spage=90;epage=94;aulast=Asokan

Aylıkcı, B. U., & Colak, H. (2013, January–June). Halitosis: From diagnosis to management
[Abstract]. Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, 4(1), 14–23. Retrieved from
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3633265/

Gingivitis and periodontitis: Overview. (2014, June 18). Retrieved from


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279593/

Intahphuak, S., Khonsung, P., & Pahthong, A. (2010, February). Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and
antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil [Abstract]. Pharmacutical Biology, 28(2), 151–157. Retrieved
from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20645831

Kaushik, M., Reddy, P., Sharma, R., Udahmeshi, P., Mehra, N., & Marwaha, A. (2016, January 1). The
Effect of coconut oil pulling on streptococcus mutans count in saliva in comparison with chlorhexidine
mouthwash [Abstract]. Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice, 17(1), 38–41. Retrieved from
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27084861
Peedikayil, F. C., Sreenivasan, P., & Narayanan, A. (2015, March–April). Effect of coconut oil in plaque
related gingivitis — A preliminary report. Nigerian Medican Journal, 56(2), 143–147. Retrieved from
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4382606/

Tooth decay: Overview (2017, September 21). Retrieved from


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279514/

Citations

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MLA
Gal, Kat. "Benefits of oil pulling with coconut oil." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 21 Nov. 2018.
Web.
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APA
Gal, K. (2018, November 21). "Benefits of oil pulling with coconut oil." Medical News Today. Retrieved
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https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323757.php.

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