Health Benefits of Oil Pulling and How to Do It

Find out how oil pulling can help to improve oral hygiene, dental health, and even freshen breath. I’ll show you how to do it in this guide too.

hands holding a jar and spoon with coconut oil

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I’m not a doctor or health care professional, and this is not medical advice. This post is for educational purposes only, and you should follow up with your doctor for more information.

What is one of the dirtiest parts of your body? I know what you’re thinking, but that’s NOT it.

Want to know? It’s in your mouth. There are about 700 species of microbes in your mouth alone – including bacteria, fungus and more.

Ewww. Gross, right? Think about that the next time you give someone a kiss.

Why Brushing Your Teeth is Not Enough

Most toothpastes just work to prevent cavities by hardening the tooth enamel with fluoride or abrasive salts to scrub away microorganisms and bacteria from the teeth and gums. The problem is that it may not be enough. The act of brushing removes about 40-70% of the bacteria (depending on how well you brush), but the bacteria that’s left behind just repopulates in your mouth.

So what can you do? I love oil pulling. There are benefits to both, and together they can help to supercharge your teeth, gums and overall health.

What is Oil Pulling?

An ancient Ayurvedic technique, oil pulling has been used for thousands of years for oral hygiene, especially in areas where access to oral care like toothbrushes and toothpaste are limited.

Oil pulling simply involves swishing sesame or coconut oil (health benefits of coconut oil) in the mouth for about 20 minutes. This process removes plague and bacteria from the teeth and mouth.

Health Benefits of Oil Pulling

1. Helps to prevent cavities

Oil pulling has shown to be as effective as mouthwash for oral hygiene. Swishing your mouth with coconut oil can inhibit the formation of cavities by reducing the Streptococcus mutans bacteria that can cause tooth decay.

2. Helps to improve gum health

Oral pulling can help to reduce plaque buildup and gingivitis, which can improve inflammation in the gums and gum health.

3. Freshens breath

Oil pulling on its own helps to remove bacteria that causes bad breath and halitosis. Yes, really. Just swishing around coconut oil in your mouth can do that.

top down shot of coconuts and jars of oil on a table

What Are The Best Oils For Oil Pulling?

Oils people use include the traditionally used sesame oil and modern options such as sunflower oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and palm oil. Of these options, many prefer coconut oil for oil pulling because of its antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Oil Pulling with Essential Oils

You can add essential oils to coconut oil to make the experience more palatable. Essential oils provide a nice flavor (be sure to get food-grade essential oils like these) and tastes refreshing too.

1. Peppermint essential oil is minty and refreshing.

2. Lemon essential oil is uplifting. I like to do oil pulling with Lemon oil first thing in the morning because it’s so refreshing.

3. Citrus Fresh essential oil is a relaxing, calming blend of orange, tangerine, mandarin, grapefruit, lemon and spearmint essential oils.

4. Grapefruit essential oil is refreshing yet without the sour taste of grapefruit juice.

5. Cinnamon essential oil packs a little punch in flavor, so I like it first thing in the morning to wake me up. I also like the Thieves blend (made with cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, rosemary and lemon essential oils).

How to Do Oil Pulling

  1. Simply take 1 tablespoon of oil (I prefer coconut oil and like to add 1-2 drops of essential oils to the spoon) and swish it around in the mouth for 20 minutes. If your jaw gets tired, you may be swishing to hard. Just a few swishes in the mouth every minute is fine.
  2. After 20 minutes, spit out the oil in the toilet. Do NOT swallow the oil, as it contains all the bacteria and contaminants in your teeth. Spitting the oil in the sink could cause plumbing problems, so it’s best to spit it out in the toilet.
  3. Rinse your mouth with warm water.
  4. Brush your teeth regularly.

Oil Pulling Tips

  • You do not need to brush your teeth before oil pulling as the practice will remove food and bacteria from the mouth. However, it is important to brush afterwards to ensure that all of the toxins that are drawn out of the mouth are removed.
  • Oil pulling is most effective when it’s done in the morning, before you’ve had breakfast or anything to drink. Do chores or take a shower to pass the time.
  • Oil pulling is safe to do 1-3 times daily.
  • After 3-5 days, you should be able to notice the effects of oil pulling.
  • Never swallow the oil after swishing it in your mouth. Remember that the regimen pulls bacteria and toxins so swallowing it can cause potential harm.
  • Never use oils that are not food-grade as they may contain harmful additives.
  • Never replace time-tested habits with oil pulling, particularly your current dental health routine. Instead, use it as a supplement to oral care habits.

How to Get Started with Essential Oils

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Photo credit: / New Africa, Milkos

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  1. Thanks for the help with oil pulling. I just started doing it. A couple of questions for you though. Do you melt the coc. oil first, or just put it in your mouth straight from the jar? And what EO would you recommend for gum issues (receding), and what would you recommend for removing stains?
    Thank you,