Meyer Orthodontics in Brookings Blog

Is Oil Pulling Good for Your Oral Health?

Is oil pulling good for your oral health?

Coconut oil is all the rage these days, and we’ve had a lot of people ask us about using it as a mouth rinse to help with oral health. There’s a lot of misinformation on the Internet about this topic, so we want to clear things up.

First and foremost, oil pulling is not an alternate to rinsing with with mouth wash, brushing your teeth, or routine dental visits. If you want to add oil pulling to your daily routine, go for it. But you still need to brush, use mouth wash and floss, too!

What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling, or rinsing your mouth with oil, is not a new trend. People have been doing it for more than 3,000 years! While traditionally it was sesame or sunflower oil, these days coconut oil is the oil of choice. Unlike other oils, coconut oil also contains lauric acid, well known for its anti-microbial agents.

Oil pulling is simply swishing 1 tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 20 to 30 minutes. You read that right, you need to do it for at least 20 minutes to get the full benefits.

While there aren’t significant clinical trials on oil pulling, there’s some solid science supporting this practice. The fatty lipid membrane of the single-cell bacteria in your mouth naturally adhere to the oil. So as you swish the oil in your mouth, pulling it between your teeth, the bacteria in your mouth will stick to the oil.

Since bacteria is a leading cause of tooth decay and other oral health issues, it makes sense that there’s some benefit to oil pulling. When you rinse, you may notice the dissolved oil changing from clear to white as the bacteria accumulate in the oil. That might sound gross, but you can see it working!

Benefits of Oil Pulling

While a clean mouth can contain anywhere between 1,000 and 100,000 bacteria on each tooth, when not clean, numbers soar to between 100 million and a billion. Oil pulling can dramatically decrease the amount of bacteria on your teeth.

Reducing the bacteria in your mouth can help in a number of ways. It gives your immune system a bit of a break, can help alleviate bad breath, reduce gingivitis, and may help prevent cavities.

Tips for Oil Pulling

If you do start oil pulling, here are some tips:

  • Start small. While you need 20 minutes for the full benefits, begin with 5 to 10 minutes until you get used to it
  • Do not swallow the oil. If you find it hard not to, you’re probably using too much
  • When you finish, spit the oil in the trash, not your sink — you don’t want it to build up and plug the pipes
  • Rinse thoroughly with water immediately after oil pulling to get the bacteria-dense oil out of your mouth before you swallow or consume a beverage

Oil Pulling is Supplemental, Not Alternative

Oil pulling is a safe practice with some nice benefits, but it is a big time commitment so it’s not for everybody. Remember it is supplemental, not an alternative to your daily oral health routine. If you can spare 20 minutes for oil pulling, you’ve got a couple more to brush and floss thoroughly, too!