Coconut Oil Pulling: Benefits, Uses and Treatments

Our teeth and mouth become very important for a lot of us after having a bad visit to our dentist.

It’s the first time we fully understand how important the health of our mouth really is.

The problem with many leading products in the market is that most products are saturated with unwanted chemicals and compounds that we don’t need.

Coconut oil pulling is one of the best ways to remove bacteria and promote healthy teeth and gums.

Dentists will tell you that treating teeth is an important gateway to treating the whole body.

The theory behind a pulling practice is that the oil “pulls” harmful viruses, bacteria (Streptococcus), parasites and fungi (Candida) and all of their toxic waste products from the mouth, preventing them from seeping into the bloodstream and suppressing immune and overall health.

Also Read: Coconut Oil for Dogs 

It has taken quite some time, but oil pulling has finally gained some popularity in the US and has always been popular abroad.

In fact, the history of oil pulling started in India, which was used primarily in Ayurvedic medicine.

It has been used for hundreds of years, giving it a rich and deep history throughout the world.

I always wondered what did our ancestors use to clean their mouth and teeth, finding out about coconut oil pulling helped me really look at the past in a different light.

The reality is that our ancestors did not use a toothbrush and toothpaste, yet most of those who ended up in old age had all their teeth intact.

This showed that rotten teeth were not as common as it is in our day and age, in fact, due to the low intake of sugars and processed food, our ancestors might have had overall healthier teeth.

The unbelievably effective procedure of oil pulling has been used for centuries as a traditional remedy to:

Also Read: 101 Coconut Oil Uses and Benefits 

  • Cures tooth decay
  • Kills bad breath
  • Heals bleeding gums
  • Prevents heart disease
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Whitens teeth
  • Soothes throat dryness
  • Prevents cavities
  • Heals cracked lips
  • Boosts Immune System
  • Strengthens gums and jaw

Coconut Oil Pulling

Coconut oil pulling is a fantastic oral detoxification procedure that is simply done by swishing a tablespoon of oil (typically coconut oil, olive or sesame oil) in your mouth for 10-20 minutes.

Oil pulling works by cleansing (detoxifying) the oral cavity in a similar way that soap cleans dirty dishes.

The compounds found in coconut oil such as antifungal, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial makes it highly effective for our mouth!

Coconut oil pulling literally sucks the dirt (toxins) out of your mouth and creates a clean, antiseptic oral environment that contributes to the proper flow of dental liquid that is needed to prevent cavities and disease.

Ancient Ayurveda texts claim that oil pulling may cure about 30 systemic diseases and even today, it’s widely discussed as a tool for detoxification of your whole body.

These uses are controversial and I can’t vouch for their validity.

However, in your mouth, oil pulling does have significant cleansing and healing effects, which are backed up by science.

Anecdotally as well, virtually everyone who tries it notices an improvement in their oral health.

Personally, this technique has significantly reduced my plaque buildup, allowing me to go longer between visits to the dental hygienist.

As reported by the Indian Journal of Dental Research, “Oil pulling has been used extensively as a traditional Indian folk remedy without scientific proof for many years for strengthening teeth, gums and jaws and to prevent decay, oral malodor, bleeding gums and dryness of throat and cracked lips.”

If you take a look at the research, it’s easy to understand why oil pulling reduced counts of Streptococcus mutans bacteria (a significant contributor to tooth decay) in the plaque and saliva of children.

Researchers also concluded that “Oil pulling can be used as an effective preventive adjunct in maintaining and improving oral health.”

In fact, coconut oil pulling significantly reduced plaque, improved gum health and reduced aerobic microorganisms in plaque among adolescent boys with plaque-induced gingivitis.

Coconut oil pulling is as effective as mouthwash at improving bad breath and reducing the microorganisms that may cause it, without that unwanted burn, and not being able to eat or drink for 30 minutes after.

Researchers also noted, “The myth that the effect of oil-pulling therapy on oral health was just a placebo effect has been broken and there are clear indications of possible saponification and emulsification process, which enhances its mechanical cleaning action.”

Also Read: Coconut Oil for Hair 

Oil Pulling with Coconut Oil 

Oil pulling involves rinsing your mouth with the oil, much like you would with a mouthwash (except you shouldn’t attempt to gargle with it).

The oil is worked around your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for a period of about 20 minutes.

However, oil pulling will work your jaw muscles making it sore for a lot of people, if this happens to slow down and take it easy while your mouth gets used to it.

Just relax and focus on moving the oil with your tongue as well as your jaw muscles.

When you’re first starting out, you may want to try it for just five minutes at a time, or, if you have more time and want even better results, you can go for 30-45 minutes.

During the swishing process, the oil mixes with saliva, creating a thin liquid that travels between your teeth and gums to places where bacteria hide.

The oils (especially oils with naturally antibacterial properties like coconut oil, or the MCT oils) bind to the biofilm, or plaque, on the teeth and reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth.

This process allows the oil to pull out bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other debris from your mouth.

The active agents in coconut oil such as antimicrobial and anti-fungal help get deep into the gums and in between the teeth.

Once the oil turns thin and milky white, you’ll know it’s time to spit it out. The best time to do oil pulling is in the morning before eating breakfast, but it can be done at any time.

Coconut oil pulling

Many of these microorganisms are coated with fat, a lipid bilayer that is attracted to other fats and in this instance, the fact of the pulling oils.

Bacteria is absorbed into the pulling oil during swishing and removed during the expulsion of the oil from your mouth.

This is why spitting the oil out instead of swallowing it is an important last step, as you don’t want to reabsorb these toxins.

When you’re done, spit out the oil and rinse your mouth with water.

Avoid swallowing the oil as it will be loaded with bacteria and whatever potential toxins and debris it has pulled out.

Candida and Streptococcus are common residents in your mouth, and these germs and their toxic waste products can contribute to plaque accumulation and tooth decay.

Oil pulling may help lessen the overall toxic burden on your immune system by preventing the spread of these organisms from your mouth to the rest of your body, by way of your bloodstream.

People have been using this technique, and others like chewing sticks, for centuries because they have shown to work!

Also Read: Coconut Oil for Skin 

Coconut Oil for Teeth 

One of the primary reasons coconut oil is the most effective for oil pulling is that coconut oil has been shown to balance hormones, kill Candida, improve digestion, in backed research conducted by researchers.

The consensus from oil pulling experts is that coconut oil is better than other oils like sesame or sunflower, which has also been studied for oil pulling.

Coconut oil pulling has unique performance properties not found in other oils.

For one, it works as a natural antibacterial, killing disease-causing bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa.

The medium chain fats found in coconut oil are effective in attacking Streptococcus Mutans bacteria which causes cavities.

Secondly, they work to maintain healthy levels of inflammation. Lastly, it is a tissue healer when applied topically. It stimulates the recovery of cells and infections, making it great for your gums.

Coconut Oil Pulling Side Effects

For the most part, coconut oil has not shown any problems when it comes to having side effects.

It is also important to use oil pulling as part of a comprehensive oral health regimen and not to use it as a replacement for normal oral hygiene and teeth brushing.

My dentist was skeptical of many of the claims about coconut oil pulling being able to benefit the body internally but said she considered it a safe alternative to mouthwash and didn’t see a problem with the practice when used in combination with other good dental hygiene methods.

Some people report negative reactions to using coconut oil for oil pulling.

Those with any type of topical or internal reaction to coconut in any form, should not use it for oil pulling or in any other way.

In these cases, sesame oil would be a better alternative. As with this or any oral product, it is important to check with a dentist about any concerns or before using, especially if other dental conditions are present.

Oil Pulling Benefits 

The majority of small-scale clinical studies around oil pulling have been held in India, the seat of this practice where scientists are readily enthusiastic to perform studies.

Most end with positive results similar to this study published in the Journal of Oral Health and Community Dentistry to demonstrate the effectiveness of oil pulling compared to other forms of oral hygiene.

The subjects in the study had mild to moderate gum disease and plaque accumulation, typical of the population as a whole.

They were instructed to continue their normal oral hygiene practices and introduce oil pulling into their routine.

At the end of the 45 days, plaque formation was significantly reduced, with most of the reduction coming during the later half of the study, indicating that the longer you oil pull, the better the results.

Gingivitis was also significantly reduced in all subjects, decreasing by more than 50 percent. The researchers rated the changes as “highly” significant.

oil for teeth

Oil Pulling

Traditional cultures use sesame or sunflower oil for oil pulling but most western countries have adapted to use of coconut oil for many reasons.

From a mechanical and biophysical perspective, it is likely that both work. However, coconut oil has an antibacterial and antiviral activity that makes it especially well suited for oral health.

In fact, coconut oil mixed with baking soda makes for a very simple and inexpensive, yet effective, toothpaste and research suggests it may be a valuable tool for fighting tooth decay.

Researchers at the Athlone Institute of Technology’s Bioscience Research Institute in Ireland tested the antibacterial action of coconut oil in its natural state and coconut oil that had been treated with enzymes, in a process similar to digestion.

Coconut oil is effective in attacking Streptococcus Mutans bacteria which causes cavities, as well as pack effective agents that also aid in helping.

It is rich in medium chain triglycerides and high in lauric acid. Coconut oil has dozens of uses, and we already have it in every room of the house since we use it in toothpaste, deodorant, in cooking and even as a coffee creamer.

In my personal experience, coconut oil pulling is more effective at removing plaque and whitening teeth than sesame oil, although I don’t have any scientific studies that prove the difference.


Whether or not you decide to give oil pulling a go, all dentists agree that a clean, low sugar diet improves your oral health.

It is essential for healthy mouth and teeth that you avoid the foods that can cause cavities, infections, and unhealthy gums.

Foods to avoid: sugar, flour, and grains, hydrogenated oils, non-grass fed meats, fish and non-farm raised eggs.

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