Why oil-pulling is good for dental hygiene


Oil pulling is a traditional folk remedy and ayurvedic therapy, which was practised in ancient India. It is believed to cure more than 30 systemic diseases when practised regularly and as directed. In addition to offering several oral health benefits, it also has beneficial effects on overall health.

It is known as Kavala-Gandusha in the old texts. Kavala means gargling and Gandusha means holding fluid inside the mouth. Kavala is the process of using a small amount of oil to swish around in the mouth for a short while before spitting it out. On the other hand, Gandusha requires a larger quantity of oil or medicated water to be filled into the mouth. This is then kept there until the person experiences excessive salivation or until the eyes and/or nose start to water.

In oil pulling, a tablespoon full of oil is swished around the mouth in the early morning before breakfast and on empty stomach for about 20 minutes. In the case of children older than five years of age, a teaspoon of oil is used. The oil is “pulled” and forced in between all the teeth by swishing it all around the mouth. At the end of this activity, if the procedure is done correctly, the viscous oil will become milky white and thinner. Then it should be spat out, the mouth should be thoroughly washed with clean water while teeth are cleaned with fingers or with a toothbrush.


Oil pulling should be done for five minutes a day, to begin with. Although the longer it is done, more bacteria will be removed, it is sufficient to do it for 10-15 minutes. It is best practised in the sitting position with the chin up.

It is done on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning. Pulling on an empty stomach triggers the release of the maximum amount of enzyme-containing saliva. These enzymes help in removing toxins and bacteria out of the lymph fluids and blood present in the oral tissues.

After oil-pulling, one has to rinse the mouth and brush. Food and drink can be consumed immediately. Most guides suggest brushing the teeth immediately afterward. Others say that it is better to wait a bit to promote the retention of good bacteria and the rebalancing of the oral microbiome. In any case, use a different toothbrush after oil pulling to the one used for daily teeth cleaning.

Once swishing is done, spit out the oil completely again taking care to avoid swallowing. One can spit in the toilet or in the trash can. Once you are done, rinse your mouth with warm water for a few seconds to get rid of the oily sensation.


Oil pulling generates anti-oxidants which damage the cell wall of micro-organisms and kill them. The oil coats the teeth and gingiva and inhibits bacterial co-aggregation and plaque formation. Thus, plaque-building bacteria responsible for dental caries, gingivitis, periodontitis and bad breath are removed from the oral cavity. Gums become pink, healthy and the problem of bleeding gums is solved.

Oil pulling helps to resolve symptoms of dry mouth/throat and chapped lips. Also, teeth become cleaner; breath becomes fresher; oral cavity muscles and jaws become stronger with the excellent achievement of oral hygiene. Oil pulling prevents dental caries, gingivitis, oral candidiasis, and periodontitis from occurring, reduces tooth pain, fixes mobile teeth and achieves optimum oral hygiene.


Cold-pressed coconut oil may help in attacking harmful bacteria in the mouth that can cause bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. It contains anti-microbial properties that may rid the mouth of odour and a decay-causing bacteria called Streptococcus Mutans and Candida Albicans. What’s more, it may help to reduce the build-up of food debris on the teeth and inner cheeks.

Coconut oil has been used for centuries as part of an effective oral hygiene practice. Oil is viscous and pulling it repeatedly through the teeth, subjects the oral muscles to significantly put more effort than they are used to. This oral exercise increases blood flow to the oral tissues and muscles, in the same way that exercising any group of muscles can increase the health of the local tissues. The increased blood flow to oral tissues can improve the health of the gums and other local tissues.

It can also stimulate secretions from the nose or mouth and help clear the local channels. This could benefit most disorders of the mouth, sinuses and head and face in general. It benefits pain and inflammation, and possibly reduces stagnation and inflammation in other local tissues, including the sinuses, jaw, throat, and possibly, the tissues as far away as the eyes or top or sides of the head.


When performed as recommended, this can be safely used as an adjunct to maintaining good oral hygiene and health along with routine tooth brushing and flossing with promising positive results.


If it’s been a while since the last dental cleaning, the best bet is to undergo a cleaning and then begin oil pulling. This way you can maintain the results of professional cleaning longer than brushing and flossing alone.

While oil pulling with coconut oil can be a great addition to your oral hygiene routine, it should not be a replacement for standard mouth care.

The best way to maintain a healthy mouth is to brush and floss your teeth twice daily using fluoride toothpaste. Also, scrape or brush your tongue and inner cheeks using your toothbrush or a gentle tongue scraper.

Additionally, drinking water throughout the day, limiting sugary beverages and foods, avoiding smoking, eating a nutritious diet, and visiting your dentist regularly are all effective strategies for a healthy mouth.


Oil pulling not only helps the skin from the inside but also from the outside because it will help in exercising the jaw muscles which in turn will also encourage good blood circulation, which helps tighten your skin, smoothens out those smile lines and provides you with a youthful look.

However, there is no scientific evidence that this remedy helps treat any disease other than those affecting the mouth.


The biggest risk of oil pulling is the impression it can give to some that it’s a cure-all. Anyone who chooses not to brush or floss his or her teeth and oil pulls instead is making a mistake. The same is true if you stop visiting the dentist. Oil pulling cannot “cure” gingivitis or fix a cavity. The oil won’t remove tartar, which requires a visit to the dentist for deeper cleaning.


Oil pulling won’t fix a toothache or infection. There are claims that it reverses tooth decay, so a filling or root canal can be avoided, which are 100 per cent false. In case of a dental problem, a dentist should be consulted.

There’s no clear evidence that oil pulling can make a difference in the colour of your teeth. Professional teeth whitening can help you achieve the desired brightness. Possibly the greatest risk of oil pulling is using it to replace time-tested treatments.

Oil pulling could cause lipoid pneumonia, which can develop, if the oil gets into the lungs. Some cases of diarrhoea or upset stomach have been reported.


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