Oil Pulling

The Ultimate Guide to Oil Pulling: Benefits, How-To, and Everything Else You Need to Know

Is oil pulling really as effective as they say it is? Here's what's hype vs. what's fact as well as the safety concerns you need to know about.

by Dr. Burhenne

8 Things Everyone Should Know About Oil Pulling

Keeping up with the latest trends in health and wellness can be extremely difficult—especially when you have to sort fact from fiction and determine which new product or practice is actually worth the hype. Admittedly, I was a little skeptical of oil pulling when it first began increasing in popularity, but after extensive research—and trying it for myself—I can confirm that oil pulling is an easy, inexpensive way to rebalance the oral microbiome and improve oral and dental health.

The History of Oil Pulling

Essentially, oil pulling involves swishing oil in the mouth for a prolonged period of time (typically 5-20 minutes). And despite its modern resurgence, this practice has been around for thousands of years.

Ancient Ayurvedic medicine prescribed oil pulling for, well… everything. According to a review in The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, Ayurvedic practitioners claim oil pulling can cure 30 different diseases, including many illnesses that have nothing to do with the mouth. (1)  While I am a firm believer in the mouth-body connection and the fact that what happens in the mouth happens in the body, I do not believe that oil pulling should be viewed as a total-body cure-all. That said, there are plenty of proven oil pulling benefits that make this practice worth the effort.

Although oil pulling has been around for the last 3,000 years or so, it became a major trend in the 1990s after a Russian physician, Dr. F. Karach, wrote about its health-boosting potential. While not extensive, research on oil pulling has been conducted and published over the last couple of decades in multiple journals, with University of Oxford scientists concluding that oil pulling is cost-effective and free from major dangers and that it “may have beneficial effects on dental hygiene.” (2)

Not sure how to oil pull at home? Wondering about the benefits you can expect if you give oil pulling a try? Let’s take a look…

How to Oil Pull

Oil pulling is one of the easiest practices you can learn to improve and maintain oral health. In fact, learning how to oil pull is probably easier than learning how to brush your teeth the right way.

To start, place a tablespoon of oil in your mouth (more on the type of oil you should use later). Then, sit upright and swish the oil around for 5-20 minutes. Finally, spit it out into a trash can, not a toilet or sink (the oil can clog pipes as it hardens).

Some sources say that brushing after you oil pull is best. I disagree, and recommend brushing before oil pulling. The biofilm on your teeth (oral microbiome) needs to be reconditioned each day to retain healthy colonies of good bacteria, and rebalancing the oral microbiome is one of the key benefits of oil pulling. If you brush after you pull, you’ll actually get rid of the good bacteria you just worked to support.

Now, if you’re thinking that you could never keep a spoonful of oil in your mouth for 20 minutes, don’t worry. The amount of time you pull is less important than developing a consistent oil pulling practice. Personally, I try to oil pull for around ten minutes, two to three times a day. (Some days it’s just not possible—but l do have a fun recipe at the end of this article that makes oil pulling much more fun and convenient.)

The Best Oil for Oil Pulling

Sesame was (and is) the oil of choice for Ayurvedic practitioners. However, I strongly recommend coconut oil for oil pulling.

First, coconut oil is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powerhouse, which makes it ideal for reducing inflammation and oxidation in the mouth. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid, a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) that is incredibly effective at killing the bad bacteria that can lead to tooth decay. (3, 4) These same compounds may also decrease the amount of plaque that builds up on your teeth, in turn reducing your chance for gum disease. (5)

I only use coconut oil for oil pulling. However, if you find the taste of coconut undesirable, I still recommend oil pulling with sesame or another oil that’s better tolerated. As long as you choose an oil that is cold-pressed and organic, you will still receive some benefits (though not all of the benefits associated with coconut oil).

5 Coconut Oil Pulling Benefits

There’s a lot of misinformation about what oil pulling can and cannot do for oral and overall health. So if you want to know what the science says about oil pulling benefits, read on…

1. Reduces the Short-Term Risk of Gingivitis

Regular oil pulling might help you avoid the challenging and potentially dangerous form of gum disease known as gingivitis. When your gums become swollen, inflamed, and tender, it may be a sign you have gingivitis. If you exhibit any of these symptoms, you should definitely take them seriously, as untreated gingivitis can eventually lead to major oral health issues like periodontitis.

The good news here is that oil pulling reduces gingivitis-causing plaque. This may be because, during oil pulling, the oil acts as an emollient. Essentially, it suds up a little like soap, cleaning the teeth and gums from unwanted buildup. (5)

Four clinical trials have been conducted to analyze the effect of oil pulling on the plaque known to cause gingivitis, and all four found statistically significant improvements in plaque after oil pulling (typically for two to four weeks, depending on the study). (6, 7, 8, 5) One of these studies even recorded a small increase in the benefits of oil pulling over chlorhexidine, the main ingredient in traditional mouthwashes. (7)

I do want to emphasize, however, that these are short-term studies observing plaque buildup. To date, no research has been conducted on long-term oil pulling and gingivitis risk.

2. Could Help Remineralize Teeth

Say it with me: “Some cavities can be reversed naturally.” This concept may fly in the face of traditional dentistry’s reliance on  fillings, but the natural process of remineralization means that some tooth decay can actually be addressed without a drill. Your teeth are designed to rebuild themselves on an ongoing basis, but remineralization is only possible in the presence of the proper nutrients and the absence of cavity-causing bacteria.

While diet is key to this reversal process, coconut oil pulling might also play a useful part. Oil pulling corrects bacterial dysbiosis in the mouth, ensuring that the bad bacteria that causes tooth decay is eliminated, while positive bacteria is allowed to thrive.

3. Kills Cavity-Causing Bacteria

As I just briefly mentioned, overgrowth of certain harmful bacteria in your mouth, such as Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans), can lead to cavities, or “dental caries.” (9) The good news? Oil pulling with both sesame and coconut oils gets rid of excessive S. mutans within the mouth just as effectively as the chlorhexidine found in conventional mouthwash. (10, 11, 12) This effect only seems to occur after at least three weeks, though—just one reason why coconut oil pulling should be used as a long-term dental health solution, not a quick fix. (13)

Oil pulling also carries a bonus benefit that mouthwash does not: oil pulling kills harmful bacteria that can cause cavities without also drastically reducing the good bacteria your mouth needs to stay healthy.

4. Decreases Oral Thrush Symptoms

When Candida yeast is allowed to proliferate in mouth, it can lead to an infection known as oral thrush. This condition is most often experienced by people with dentures, those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, individuals using inhalers for asthma, or anyone taking medication that alters the microbiome (including antibiotics and steroids). Babies also experience oral thrush somewhat frequently, although they can’t oil pull.

Coconut oil is known to have antifungal properties, so it helps to kill and Candida living in the mouth. A review of current research confirms that coconut oil pulling is a very cost-effective and easy way to reduce oral thrush symptoms. (14)

5. Beats Bad Breath

If you struggle with bad breath or “halitosis,” you’ve probably relied on mouthwash to correct the condition. But as it turns out, that may not be the best solution.

The alcohol in mouthwash dries out the inside of your mouth, which, in turn, reduces the amount of saliva you can produce. That’s bad news, since saliva ensures that certain bacteria don’t propagate and that oral pH remains steady. In short, mouthwash may temporarily get rid of bad breath, but its continued use can actually prolong the issue you’re trying to resolve.

That brings us to oil pulling—unlike mouthwash, oil pulling is able to support your saliva’s efforts in disorganizing bacteria without killing the good bacteria and drying your mouth out. In fact, at least three separate clinical trials found that regular oil pulling can kill the bacteria responsible for halitosis. (15, 16, 17)

Coconut Oil Pulling Dangers

While this is a generally safe practice, oil pulling does involve one minor risk you should understand. If you often choke on oils while oil pulling, the fat can make its way into your lungs and, in rare cases, cause lipid pneumonia. (18) This doesn’t happen a lot, but it is why young children shouldn’t be encouraged to practice oil pulling until they have more control over their reflexes.

This is important to note, especially because oral thrush (described above) is common among babies. Again, oil pulling is NOT recommended for infants and children, as they are more likely to swallow the oil.

On the other hand, some oil pulling dangers you may read about actually aren’t dangers at all. For starters, oil pulling does NOT loosen crowns or fillings unless there is a decayed foundation beneath these devices—in which case, you should definitely see your dentist (and perhaps be thankful that pulling exposed the problem).

Another myth about oil pulling dangers is that it may be harmful to pregnant mothers because they may re-ingest toxins pulled from the gums. Fortunately, oil pulling doesn’t draw anything directly from the bloodstream. You shouldn’t be swallowing the oil, but there’s no reason to think oil pulling would impact the health of a fetus or a pregnant mom.

Does Oil Pulling Work? The Truth About 4 Oil Pulling Myths

Oil pulling definitely works to improve your oral health, no question. It kills bad bacteria and still allows you to maintain a healthy oral microbiome. Additionally, oil pulling can lower inflammation and oxidative stress that may be impacting the teeth, gums, and mouth.

But, as I stated, oil pulling is not a cure-all. Here’s a look at what it can’t do:

1. Oil pulling doesn’t cure TMJ/TMD.

It’s a great thought, but there’s no proof that oil pulling does anything for the symptoms of TMJ. Many people report a reduction in jaw pain when oil pulling, but I think of it more as a probable “mask” for the pain, if anything.

If you struggle with TMJ/TMD symptoms, I recommend speaking with your dentist and considering a sleep study to find out if you’re grinding your teeth at night.

2. Oil pulling doesn’t whiten teeth.

It might help improve the appearance of your teeth by removing stains caused by bacteria, but oil pulling doesn’t whiten teeth any more than swishing water in your mouth for 20 minutes would do. (19)

3. Oil pulling doesn’t cure disease.

Remember those 30 conditions that Ayurvedic tradition claims oil pulling can treat or cure? Even some of the most vocal, modern fans of oil pulling say it can improve diabetes, migraines, arthritis, eczema, migraines, and asthma. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence to support those statements.

4. Oil pulling can’t replace brushing and flossing.

Oil pulling definitely helps to reduce plaque and cavity-causing bacteria, but it is only one part of a good dental health routine. Don’t stop flossing, brushing, or tongue scraping—these are all necessary for preventing and reversing cavities, preventing gum disease, and reducing your risk of other oral health problems.

Coconut Oil Chews: The Convenient, Mess-Free Way to Oil Pull

If you’re like me, your schedule is jam-packed and finding the time to swish oil in your mouth is difficult at best. Well, I have good news! My recipe for oil pulling chews makes keeping up with your oil pulling routine easier than ever.

While developing these recipes, I was also able to add in a few additional ingredients that promote healthy flora within the mouth. Whether you’re focusing on remineralizing or boosting the microbiome of your health, I’m confident you’ll enjoy these options for a more convenient way to oil pull.


Microbiome Coconut Oil Pulling Chews

Print Recipe
microbiome oil pulling chews
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Servings: Makes about ¾ cups or 36 one teaspoon portions

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Mix coconut oil with avocado oil.microbiome oil pulling chews
  2. Whisk in baobab powder, until dissolved.microbiome oil pulling chews
  3. Fill ice cube trays in 1 teaspoon portions (or 2 teaspoons if you prefer).microbiome oil pulling chews
  4. Freeze for at least 2 hours, or until completely hardened.microbiome oil pulling chews
  5. Transfer to a jar and store in the fridge. Use one each morning for oil pulling first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything. Look for silicone or BPA-free ice cube trays if possible.

Tips

Gently swish, pull and suck the oil through your teeth, the chews will quickly melt in your mouth as you begin. Start slow and don’t work too hard, start with 5 minutes a day and work your way up to 15-20 minutes.

Don’t swallow the oil.

If the urge to swallow is too great, try cutting the chew into half to use less.

Discard the used oil out in the trash, discarding in the sink or toilet can clog plumbing.  Rinse your mouth with warm water and floss and brush as normal.


Remineralizing Coconut Oil Pulling Chews Recipe

Print Recipe
Remineralizing Coconut Oil Pulling Chews
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes, freeze for 2 hours
Servings: Makes about ¾ cups or 72 half teaspoon portions

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Mix coconut oil with avocado oil in a medium sized bowl, set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the xylitol, baking soda and l-arginine, mix with a fork until well combined.Remineralizing Coconut Oil Pulling Chews
  3. Slowly add the powders into the oil, mixing with a fork.
  4. Fill ice cube trays in 1/2 teaspoon portions, mix often as you fill the tray to prevent powders from settling to the bottom of the bowl.
  5. Freeze for at least 2 hours, or until completely hardened.
  6. Transfer the chews to a jar and store in the fridge.Remineralizing Coconut Oil Pulling Chews

Tips

 - Use one each morning for oil pulling first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything.

 - Use after an acidic drink like coffee or wine to help freshen your breath and prevent staining. I always recommend you wait at least 20-30 minutes after an acidic meal or drink before brushing, since acids weaken enamel, making it vulnerable with a toothbrush. Unlike brushing after an acidic drink, oil pulling will accomplish the same thing without harming your enamel. If you struggle with coffee breath, pop one of these and swish for 5-10 minutes before heading out the door—no brushing required!

How to Oil Pull

Gently swish, pull and suck the oil through your teeth, the chews will quickly melt in your mouth as you begin. Start slow and don’t work too hard, start with 3-5 minutes a day and work your way up to 15-20 minutes.

Don’t swallow the oil. Try using less if the urge to swallow is too great.

Don’t spit in the sink! Discard the used oil out in the trash, as discarding in the sink or toilet can clog plumbing.

Optional: Rinse your mouth with warm water.


Final Thoughts on Oil Pulling

I started out as an oil pulling skeptic—probably like many of you. However, the research and my own experiences prove that oil pulling is a useful part of a good oral health routine. Not only can oil pulling reduce plaque and bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease, it may be responsible for beating bad breath.

My preferred oil for pulling is coconut oil, due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties. Try pulling for 20 minutes a day if you can—or break it up into two, ten-minute stretches if one marathon session isn’t feasible. And if you’re interested in trying oil pulling but often in a hurry, my coconut oil pulling chews are an easy way to make this beneficial practice a part of your regular routine.

Dr. Mark Burhenne

Photo by Meal Makeover Mom / CC BY-ND 2.0

Are you seeing health benefits from your own oil pulling? Let me know your experiences with oil pulling in the comments below — I read each and every one!

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Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS

99 Comments

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  1. Oil pulling has helped relieve toothache pain for me. I don’t quite believe it can heal the tooth, but I’m working on other factors to heal it. I’ve noticed minor improvement, but considering I’ve already lost one tooth before, this is a huge success for me! I won’t stop oil pulling, it may very well be psychological, but it’s helping! Also, I really enjoy your articles, thank you so much for the helpful information. I can’t wait for the DIY toothpaste recipes 🙂

    • If your sensitivity comes from gum recession or exposed roots, then oil pulling may help remineralize the teeth and that will help your pain, so I think you’re right! It could be more than psychological. However, if your pain comes from a cavity, then it’s not going to help. Thanks for the compliment, Natalie, I appreciate it and am glad you’re finding it all useful 🙂

        • The only reason it would help remineralise teeth has to do with the fact that swishing coconut oil in your mouth for 20 mins makes you salivate more, and you are essentially swishing a mixture of coconut oil and saliva in your mouth for an extended period of time, so the saliva has lots of time to neutralize the mouth and deposit minerals to your teeth to help remineralize. So it’s not necessarily the coconut oil itself that does it, though there are many other benefits besides that can be attributed to the coconut oil.

  2. Thank you for the information, Dr. Burhenne. Someone mentioned to me that the pH of coconut oil is problematic and should not be used for oil pulling if the patient has crown and bridge, porcelain inlays, etc. Is there any truth to this?

    • Sure! There shouldn’t be any interaction between the oil and the metal. In fact, I think oil pulling would be especially useful with braces. When I had braces in my thirties, I used to swish with Oxyfresh for ten minutes after every meal, which helped me immensely. I think this is part of the reason oil pulling works — it’s because people are swishing for a long time.

  3. I have a question for you, every time I brush my teeth they bleed, know matter what I do for them. I brush them twice a day sometimes three times a day faithfully and they will not stop blending. My Dentist, Dr.Robert T. Peck as you’ve probably already have know him and his father (Who has now Sence retired from his practice) on Northveiw Rd. in Boise, Idaho. Has been my Dentist for the past 19 years now going on twenty.

    I’m a type 2 diabetic, seance 2010….. I’m on Oxygen 3-1/2 liters per second. I do not have sleep apnea. My lungs were damaged from having pulmonary embolism’s and a massive heart attack back in 2010, at the same time I was diagnosed with having type 2 diabetes.

    Now I’m on Warfarin for the rest of my life, and this is one of the reasons why I’m having problems with my gums breeding all of the time. Dr. Peck has me washing my mouth out with, Chlohexidine Gluconate 0.12% Oral Rinse, USP. I’ve been using this faithfully for 19 years. Swishing it in my mouth and spitting it out, not rinsing my mouth out afterwards. Just to keep my gums from breeding so bad that I at time’s will have to go back into my bathroom to spit out my sliva and blood that has acquired within my mouth after I’ve barely brushed my teeth.

    My only question is….. Will this “oil pulling” help me with my gums to “help STOP” the breeding from happening every time I brush my teeth?! I’m getting too old in my ways of wanting a beautiful looking smile. I went “over the hill a decade ago” And I’m getting really tired of putting our the “big bucks” Just to keep from loosening my teeth. because of having dry mouth and being cursed with the family genetics, of having TMJ and TMD, amongst other thing’s.

    I even carry a pack of flossing picks with me everywhere I go, just to have in case of an emergency if I would ever need them to get out the food from in between my teeth. I been dubbed “the flossy” no not (flussey) Haha, all jokes set aside, so…. am I on the right track?! Or should I get off this train and go somewhere else for help. I sorry if I sound so rude or out of line, but I’m trying my hardest to keep my teeth and have some money in my bank account, to save for my grandchildren’s education.

    I’m at a loss right now, tired of having to put out over $1500.00 + each and every year for dental work on my teeth. just to have them clean, x-rayed, filling put into my teeth, New crowns, replacing old crowns, extraction of a broken bridge, tooth.replacing a new crown. etc..etc..etc……

    • Lynn, I understand completely the frustration of not being able to fix something in the mouth and how daunting it can be. It sounds like you’re aware that the warfarin and diabetes are a large cause of the bleeding, but breathing in the oxygen could be causing dry mouth. Here’s what I do if I were you: given all the things I just mentioned as an aside, you and your dentist need to establish, to what degree do you have primary gum disease – in other words, is it type 1, 2, 3…is it more than just gingivitis? Do you have deep pockets? And then reverse whatever stage of gum disease you have. This will make it easier for you to stabilize your blood sugar levels and although it won’t negate the effects of warfarin, it’ll be good to find out how much of the bleeding is due to gum disease and how much is due to warfarin. It would be a pity to think all this time the warfarin was the culprit, when in fact, it was the gum disease, which can wreak havoc with the health of your whole body. Keep me posted and let me know if this helps.

      • Given your medical history especially the embolism, cardiovascular issues, diabetes, as well as dry mouth, tooth caries and TMJ syndrome, I would also strongly suggest you do a sleep study (home-based or ambulatory is good) if not already done!

      • very nice explanation, i am a hygienist and my very first thought was why doesnt this woman know about periodontal disease… very nice explanation agreeing with warfarin, breathing in dry air as well i would love to educate her as well she needs a new dentist that will have a good hygienist to look for pockets, bleeding on probing, recession and furcation involvement , bone loss, mobility. then her gums will get much better and she wont have a mouth full of blood after she barely brushes her teeth

      • When I read your post today I just about cried! Yes you heard right! It’s been an emotional 48hrs and everything in your post reminded me just how tough this battle with CRPS really is! There’s some stuff going on with my insurance company and I’m reminded how some people just don’t understand what we go through on a daily basis! I’m reminded however in your post that we stand together in our fight and that if need be we can support each other through things!

  4. Oil pulling does remove plaque… and hard tartar if you do it long enough. Twice it removed hard tartar that kept building on my two bottom front teeth. The first time it did it, I actually thought I broke or chipped my tooth when the sharp tartar came off and scratched my tongue.

    As for replacing brushing and flossing. You’re supposed to brush after oil pulling. And as for TMJ, it really does help. I spent a lot of money with two braces and it made it worse both times. The TMJ really helped along with sleeping with a flatter pillow so that my head sits further back and relaxes my jaw… which stops the grinding.

    • What is the name of the brand of coconut oil you use? Is it refined or unrefined? Does this happen (flossing off tartar pieces) after just oil pulling or after brushing and oil pulling? of brushing?

      Sorry for so many questions, this will greatly help me on my quest, thank you

      • Hi sevast, I alternate brands of coconut oil but they’re unrefined, organic, cold pressed coconut oils. They are Australian brands. I also alternate between coconut and cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. The hard tartar didn’t come off when flossing. I just woke up and it would be sort of hanging off my bottom tooth and it would scratch my tongue. Then when I realised what it was, I pulled it off. It didn’t happen overnight either but over several months of OP and it didn’t happen on all teeth. It seemed to be that the worst or thickest tartar was the one that came off and that was on my two bottom teeth. The next time it happened, it was the other bottom tooth. The oil pulling seems to soften and loosen them over time. I oil pulled then rinsed with salt water. Then I’d brush as I normally would. The oil pulling isn’t meant to replace brushing and flossing. It’s supposed to kill bacteria, loosen biofilm/plaque to make it easier to brush off. Chewing Mastic Gum is great too.

  5. I have a bridge directly beside my front tooth, and I am really wanting a healthier, more nice looking smile but I am concerned that it will cause my bridge tooth to decay. Is there any change it could ruin my bridge? I still have it for another 7 years

  6. I’ll keep this short. I had an accident many years ago that fractured my jaw and needed root canals and crowns canine to canine. I also have 1 less tooth on one side from ortho work. Needless to say, my jaw healed, but unevenly. I’m a grinder, and have 6 crowns on the left not including the front. I started oil pulling to elevate red swollen gums from newly placed crowns, biological width issues. It helped, but not my jaw is swollen and inflamed near 2 bottom crowns. I don’t know what to do. I love the benefits of puling with coconut oil, but will it cost me more $$ to replace what I already have. Not including my silver fillings.

  7. I did this one time and immediately got sick. As far as I can tell I’m one of those few people that inhaled oil and got lipid pneumonia. My experience:
    Saturday at 3pm. 15 minutes of oil pulling. I started to develop a cough in the next couple hours and by bed time it was the most painful chest cough I’ve ever had. Coupled with an insane sinus pressure headache.
    Sleep was rough that night and by Sunday morning I was pretty sure I had a fever. I checked and it was at 102.
    It’s Monday morning now and I’ve still got the same symptoms. Can’t sleep. Fever fluctuating from 101 to 102.7. Debilitating headache, coughing and body aches.
    Has anyone else had a similar experience???
    I can’t seem to find anyone who has.
    Now I’m just hoping that since I certainly won’t be doing anymore oil pulling this will all go away soon…
    I’ve been doing some saline nettipot flushing and oil steaming and luckily had some quercitin and respiratory health pills and turmeric that I’ve been taking.
    Please help.

    • Wow, I am really sorry you experienced such an unpleasant illness. Are you sure the illness was a direct result of oil pulling and not just a sinus infection and/or flu that had other causes? From what I understand, lipid pneumonia is caused by inhaling oil, which then gets on the lungs. Do you recall actually inhaling the oil? You should know if you inhaled it. After all, it’s very obvious when you inhale water; most people instantly start coughing and spluttering. Is it not the same with coconut oil? I would be alarmed to find that one can inhale coconut oil and then contract lipid pneumonia without even realising they inhaled the oil in the first place!! Do give us an update. What did your doctor say? Are you absolutely 100% positive inhaling coconut oil was the cause, and if so, did you notice that you inhaled the oil at the time?

  8. I started oil pulling with Organic, Cold pressed and unrefined Coconut Oil, about four weeks ago. In the last week I started having discomfort in my gums. It almost feels like something is drawing and/or pulling on my gums and teeth.

    Would Coconut Oil pulling cause this effect?

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts and/or knowledge on this issue.

  9. Dr. Mark Burhenne,
    I started Oil pulling since February 2016 and am doing so till date. My experience is that my mouth feels fresh and am free of bad breath. However, my concern is Will daily oil pulling loosen my gums and teeth?

        • Eloyce, if you read this…well, you haven’t done yourself in. 🙂 Now you know better. The best explanation of oil pulling I’ve read was on Jon Barron’s site, and he theorizes that most of the benefits of oil pulling–the body health benefits, not the oral health benefits–are due to reducing the amount of bacteria in our mouths that we swallow every day. This relieves the immune system and allows the body to get busy on other priorities.

          All the directions for oil pulling specify that you should spit out the oil after swishing because the oil has combined with bacteria in your mouth to “pull” it out more effectively than water or brushing alone. You don’t want to swallow all that bacteria you’ve just dislodged. I guess you must have started oil pulling without reading good directions like this–but anyway, now you know!

          • Thank you Diane. I’m going to spend the next three weeks at a health spa near San Diego. While there, I’ll detox my mouth with coconut as well my body with plant based diet and tons of wheat grass juice. Wish me luck. My first 3 week stay. Usually stay 1 week spring and 1 week in the fall. This will be a challenge.

  10. What a fantastic website! I really wish all dentists would include nutritional education as part of their treatment. I wanted to comment on my experience with oil pulling. I used organic coconut oil twice daily (about 10-15 minutes) for several weeks and noticed a huge difference. Although you said it didn’t whiten teeth, mine really did whiten up. I even had an ex-partner comment who hadn’t seen me in several months, so it wasn’t just my imagination 🙂 They felt much cleaner and my hygienist said that yearly visits would suffice as things were looking so good. I’m down to just 3-4x weekly now. It really has been one of the best things I’ve done for my teeth.

  11. Dr. Mark Burhenne,
    Abouts 2 1/2 weeks ago I had to have a bone graft & eventually I will have a tooth implant. But, a friend encouraged me to try oil pulling. I have tried it several times so far, but my concerns is will the oil pulling have a negative effect on the healing of my bone graft. I would like to continue the oil pulling but not at the expense of my healing of my bone graft. Thanks, Rebecca

      • I have just started doing this today after I told a friend of mine that my gums are having atough time healing after oral surgery and a bone graft – in my case, it’s been 3.5 weeks. The gums haven’t fully healed over the area yet and it just still feel irritated and a little sore…I’m assuming after this time, I wouldn’t do damage to the area? I am not vigorously swishing, just gently. Any other advice would be appreciated, too…it just seems like whatever I try to do to get the area to heal is just aggravating it, even Aloe Vera juice (since it’s a little acidic)

  12. Very informative Dr. Burhenne. My periodontist recenctly told me that I had a 5-6 mm on my back tooth. He believed it was caused when I had a molar extraction five or six years ago and the tissue did not heal properly. He recommended that I have a vestage wedge performed to lower the gum line so that I can have a better access to cleaning but I am balking at the cost of the procedure and my wife is insisting that I take the natural path in hopes that it will heal naturally. We (or I) got burned big time at a prior dentist and I had to fork over hundreds of dollars and my wife is highly skeptical. Anyway, these are the steps I am taking to hopefully heal this naturally:

    1: stop using a florudie based toothpaste and mouthwash. Currently using a product known as Earth paste

    2: swish organic cocunut oil extra virgin for 20 minutes twice a day

    3: chew three cloves of garlic twice a day…..boy is that HOT!!!!

    4: Eliminated 80% of my sugar consumption. Staying away from soda and coffee like a plague.

    5: trying to eat more vegtables.

    6; Staying awaying from acidic foods

    7: increasing my consumption of organic whole milk and dairy products

    8 (flossing, yeah i should have mentioned it before) Do you recommend the old fashion style of flossing or the pickers with a floss string attached to it?

    9: drinking organic green tea at night and in the morning

    I have read that taking large dosages of vitamin C may help as well but I am skeptical. In a nutshell is it possible to heal PD naturally without expensive sugary and if so am I on the right tract? is there anything else that I can do to further enhance my home treatments of my teeth/gums?

  13. Thanks for the great advice Dr. Burhenne. I was wondering if oil pulling is harmful at all considering I unfortunately have 3 mercury fillings in my mouth?

  14. Is it too early for a 5 year old to get started with an oil pulling regime. Any other natural way to reverse cavity???

  15. hi
    im v upset about my teeths.about 12years ago I had a root canal of front upper teeth.but with no crow.this year I started hot lemon water for better health but according to various people it is the main cause of my tooth enamel destruction ..my lower front teeths have noe plaque n tartar in within just one week. 🙁 I search oil pulling on internet n starts doing it from last tow days.anyone will pls guide me about this issue???

  16. Hi

    I started to do oil Pulling about a week ago, after my dentist told me I had a gum disease/infection and they have to perform a Deep Cleaning.

    I use coconut oil to do this, in the morning, for 20 minutes. I noticed that my gums dont bleed when I brush, at least not the last 4 days. BUT… my teeth are becoming a bit sensitive. Is it because this thing is actually working and the plaque/infection in my gums is coming out ?

  17. Hi Dr. Burhenne,
    I started oil pulling a few weeks ago with coconut oil by the recommendation of my Dr. It has been extremely effective on treating thrush, along with medications Nystatin and Diflucan. It is helpful in easing the pain and burning in the gums, cheeks and tongue. I had never pulled before. No, my teeth are not whiter, nor has my tarter magically disappeared, but my mouth does feel cleaner and weirdly enough I kind of enjoy it. I don’t know how long I will keep it up, as the candida overgrowth is not completely gone, but it isn’t hard, and my mouth feels SO much better!

  18. Hi, recently I found out that I have gum recession. I have tooth sensitivity for two years or more. Does oil pull help to cure gum recession?

  19. be sure you use cold-pressed high-quality oil ..but i am not sure of the benefits opposed to correct brushing and flossing

    Due to my sore gums and sporadic pain moving around my molars…i started off with virgin olive oil for a few weeks and it seemed to help… i then used coconut oil (non virgin/cold-pressed) and it drove my mouth crazy… .. dentist said my gums/teeth were very clean, when i mentioned the oil pulling he said said better to stop as maybe the oil had some chemicals and getting into the gums…. i tried a few weeks later with water and made my mouth super dry… i don’t bother now
    i use a salt based toothpaste and floss everyday (with high- wax type as some brands really hurt) and my gums are good.. …i think my original problem was teeth clenching (causing the tooth pain) which i have now a nightguard, not flossing and using a too hard toothbrush…..also used to be constantly picking at my teeth with toothpicks which may have led to gum irritation… my dentist said this is actually very bad for my teeth ( as i have mostly crowns)

    .. better to get to root cause (forgive the pun) of the pain/ discomfort and then try oil pulling… also better to catch and fill any cavities early !! … crowns and root canals cost serious money.. believe me 🙁

  20. I have oiled pulled for 4 days for 20 minutes then spit out theoil. I put the coconut oil in a cup,then brushed my teeth. I went to the hygienist and said my gums were very oily. She said my gums did look much better. I have gum disease.

  21. I have an old devitalized -root canal tooth which feels loose. I got it X rayed and it shows that there is infection in the bone. Can there be a connection between this tooth and feeling weak?

    Is oil pulling a good idea until I have the tooth removed?
    I oil pulled twice and the tooth feels more loose.

    Thanks

  22. Thanks for the useful info! I have a question about using coconut oil for oil pulling. Ive read that coconut oil contains lauric acid and two other acids, and lauric acid kills bacteria. My question is would these acids in the oil be harmful on tooth enamel? I figured that all acids would be harmfukillsthe tooth’s enamel

    • Hey I don’t have a definite answer for you, but I do know that the Lauric and other acids in coconut oil are Fatty acids. They’re long chain and medium chain Fatty acids, not citric type acid. I think the PH is near neutral which means it isn’t very corrosive. Anyone please correct me if I’m wrong and I hope this helps.

  23. I have sensitive gums, and oil-pulling absolutely stops the sensitivity. I don’t know about cavities, but I have friends who do oil-pulling in addition to a diet by Ramiel Nagel, and it does fix cavities. The diet involves raw dairy milk, grass-fed beef & cod liver oil. Not an easy or a cheap diet, but it does work. Oil-pulling does stop arthritis pain. I used to hurt in my elbows, shoulders, knees and back. I started oil-pulling, and within two weeks, the pain was gone and has never come back.

  24. I have pulled for years. I use coconut oil with a half cap of neem bark extract. I also use neem bark tooth powder. I used to have terrible plaque every dental visit not anymore. Neem is better than chlorohexidine according to a few studies. My wife grew up chewing Neem twigs in India. Her teeth were perfect till coming here.

  25. Hello, I’ve been oil pulling for more than two moths now along with brushing, and I feel my teeth cleaner (never felt so clean), though, reading your article a doubt rose. Since mouthwash destroys even good bacteria that are beneficial for our health, wouldn’t oil pulling do the same killing the bad and the good bacteria?

  26. A dentist told me that oil pulling killed not only the bad bacteria, but the necessary & good bacteria as well. Never thought about that aspect.

  27. ok, here is my experience with Oil pulling. 66 year old male. I have pockets. many are very deep. I have my teeth cleaned every 3 to 4 months. I also have 3 implants. I use coconut oil 15 to 20 minutes for 2 weeks. my pockets have been stable for 10+ years. My hygienist noticed my gums looked better. But after measurement, even she was stunned. after 2 weeks of use my pockets were dramatically better than my previous cleaning 3 months before. . averaging almost 3. before, closer to 5. Now I haven’t seen whiter teeth, yet. and no other benefits. but this is a substantial change. I was told nothing can be done about pockets except frequent cleanings. I wondering if my next cleaning will see even further movement?
    Maybe just maybe dentists don’t like this because it will mean less business?

  28. Here is my story. About 2 weeks ago, I went to the dentist for the first time in a long time. (I’m not a doctor kind of person)
    I was told that I had a SEVERE build up of bacteria under my gums and would need an in depth procedure to remove it that would entail numbing the mouth and going under the gums with a scraper. With insurance this would cost me over $120 which I can not spare, so… Hence the choice to find a safe alternative to bacteria removal. I began a search online and found out about OP. Knowing that I also have a heavy build up of tartar, I chose to tweak the OP experience and not only use coconut oil to swish, but I mix coconut oil and baking soda to brush my teeth. In the couple of weeks that I have been doing this, I have brushed my teeth a handful of times. (I’ve never been a 3 times a day brusher)
    But I have already noticed a difference. Before, when I would floss I would get this horrendous smell and taste from each tooth, obviously from the bacteria, however, as of tonight when I flossed, only one tooth produced that smell! Sounds gross, I know, but for me it was a milestone. I have also noticed that my gums are not bleeding as bad since starting this. I have thought of adding a touch of peppermint oil to the mixture to balance out the salty taste of the baking soda, but otherwise I am THRILLED with my results thus far!

  29. Hi doc thank you for the info i am a 75 yr old female with receding gums & my enamel is pretty much gone (over brushing) for a life time. I have been oil pulling x-2 daily for about a month now , & my gums are growing back, not as fast as I would like, but improved , but my teeth seem even more brown than before I started. Any commment is appreciated . Is am very worried about my teeth as I have to sleep with a oral appliance for sleep apnea. C-pap does not give relief
    Thank you
    ,

  30. Are you serious? 20 ***MINUTES***? Heck, no way! I will stick to my three brushings and two flossings a day! I can handle 20 seconds, but damned if I have 20 minutes daily to swish. First of all, it is a bloody long time to do something that can get tedious, irritating and rather unpleasant. Secondly, some of that can go down your throat considering how long you need to do this. Is there a much shorter minimum time?

    • you can do other things besides just swish. like watch TV. or reply to comments on the internet. you build up to 20 minutes. 5 minutes to start. or don’t nobody is making you. even though I had provable results after only 2 weeks I am the only one in my family doing it.

    • If you feel like that you are about to swallow it then you can quickly spit it out and continue the rest of your 20 minutes with a fresh new batch of coconut oil in your mouth, no biggie.

  31. That’s what I thought at first Harry until I tried it! I found that the oil didn’t make me gag as I thought it would, and I started with five minutes to see what happened. When I realised the experience wasn’t as bad as I thought, I increased the time slowly over a few days and gave myself jobs to do to distract myself. The result? My gums don’t bleed any more (and I have been cleaning my teeth thoroughly two to three times a day and using dental sticks for years!). Please do give it a try because it really works and it’s not unpleasant at all!

  32. My dentist was concerned about my receding gums, even though he could see that I was doing a great job flossing and brushing. On my sister’s recommendation, I started oil pulling (with coconut oil) 20 minutes three mornings a week (during and after my shower). When I went back for my next dental appointment, I did not mention the oil pulling until the hygienist started commenting on the improvement in my gums. I have been doing it for a couple of years now, and my dentist is a big fan.

  33. I am trying oil pulling since I am very frustrated by my deep pockets and receeding gums. I’ve already had one round of scaling & root planing, one gum graft, and get cleanings every 3 months (2 by the dentist and the other 2 by the periodontist). I’m only 45 and fear that dentures are in my future if I don’t do something, but neither the dentist nor the periodontists offer any other advice than to keep up my hygiene, which I’m doing. My permanent teeth came in with deformed enamel, which makes hygiene very difficult. I’d always been told I could do 10x the hygiene and still have 10x the problems. How true. I am encouraged by reading others’ success here. Even a modest improvement would satisfy me. Thanks.

  34. This is my experience with coconut oil pulling:-
    I am into my 8th week of 2-3 times a day oil pulling and here are the benefits I have experienced so far:
    I used to have receding gums, areas of gum inflammation and slight bleeding with brushing, ALL that has stopped with coconut oil pulling.
    My teeth used to be sensitive/painful with ice cubes or ice cream but not since I’ve adopted daily coconut oil pulling.
    I also have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis but my symptoms such as cold intolerance, dry skin, hair fall, easily-fatigued, feeling ‘blue’ (a little depressed) have all subsided since I’ve adopted daily oil pulling. My sleep is deeper and more restful. My grey hair even feels less obvious! My skin feels softer/supple somehow more radiant.
    Yesterday I had my first dental cleaning in 7 years, and the dentist kept on remarking “…excellent dental hygiene”. We did find however, a cavity in one of my hard-to-reach wisdom teeth. I previously discovered its presence (brushing in front of magnified mirror) and put myself on a no-sugar, daily cod-liver-oil and good nutrient diet (6 weeks now). I have no pain associated with that cavity and wonderful, wonderful Dentist agreed to wait another 2 months before filling the cavity. She did not know about oil-pulling and asked me questions about it, she said she noticed areas of remineralisation. She said she wouldn’t ordinarily agree with waiting 2 months before filling a cavity but since my dental hygiene was so excellent and I had no pain, we made the next appointment (for said cavity) in two months.
    I think I reduced the 7 years worth of calculus by 70-80% (my estimate) with the daily oil pulling and yesterday’s remaining calculus removal was relatively easy, resulting in absolutely NO gum soreness. As mentioned, I used to have receding gums but at yesterday’s dental visit, Dentist emphatically shook her head and said, “No gum recession anywhere”.
    For me, coconut oil pulling has been such a POSITIVE experience, such a great blessing. I shall be keeping it a constant in my life. I am intrigued to find out if it does reduce/heal my cavity…I’ll let you know!
    Thank you Dr. Burhene -great website and sharing of information!

  35. p.s. I also have a 3mm gum pocket in the other wisdom tooth, that Dentist said, “…expected in such hard to reach place.” As mentioned, I will continue the oil pulling and to use a soft infant-sized toothbrush on it and will report back in two months time…
    But since my gum recession completely healed, so shall this single 3 mm pocket!
    Watch this space!

  36. I have been oil pulling for about 4 months. 10 to 20 minutes a day. it’s awful at first. but you eventually get used to it. I developed a abscess on one of my crowns this past monday morning. very painful. usually something like this I would go to the dentist immediately. but I had too much on my plate and put it off. Monday afternoon I did my usual oil pulling and noticed the abscess had diminished. quite notably. Tuesday I did the oil pulling again and by that evening the abscess was gone. Now I’m still going to a dentist. to have this looked at. but it did seem fast. probably was a piece of food stuck in the gum.
    I am having my teeth cleaned later this month. I am interested to see if my pockets have reduced more. I also note that my breath seems better. since oil and water don’t mix, I find it hard to believe this is doing much good. but when you spit it out the oil looks completely different that when it went in. virgin coconut oil above 76 degrees F is clear. yet when you spit it out it is like a thin white paste. so something is going out with it. toxins?

    maybe since oil and water don’t mix the oil is forcing moisture into the gums. all I know is my gums look healthy and more resilient. and I’m betting my pockets have gotten better.

    now I originally did this for one reason, whiter teeth. well the teeth aren’t blindingly white, but they seem to get less staining between cleaning. I never skip flossing and brush for 2 minutes. my care is impeccable. but I’ve had pockets forever. hopefully this is the answer.

    • Sorry to burst your bubble but the white you are seeing when you spit the swished coconut oil out is not toxins but rather the coconut oil has temporary emulsified with your saliva and creates tiny bubbles suspended in the matrix giving the white appearance.

  37. Hello and thank you for this article. I have been oil pulling for almost 3 years now. My husband thinks I’m nuts, because I do this routine every morning. We live in Europe now and dental cleanings are only scheduled once a year. At first this made me worry that too much plaque would build up between visits, but I will say my last dental cleaning went off with such ease. I’m wondering if it’s as a result of the oil pulling or better brushing technique? Though to be fair, I rarely have a bad dental visit, but this one was remarkable. I feel better (cleaner) after I do the oil pulling, but I wonder if that’s psychological. I am also a tongue scraper and flosser, so you can see I’m pretty fastidious about my teeth.

  38. Hallo,
    I would like to know if is it ok to brush my teeth straight after oil pulling (after spitting out the oil and rinsing my mouth) or should I wait for some minutes?
    Should I brush with ot without toothpaste?

    Thank you!

    • Hello Licia, I just asked the same question. I’ve included the doctor’s response below. In my opinion, honestly I tried to not brush and didn’t like the feeling, so I’m back to brushing again. Dr. Mark Burhenne The toxins technically are in the oil you have just spit out. Brushing immediately afterwards really is not necessary and removes the conditioned biofilm that you worked hard to get by pulling. Drb

  39. Hi
    I have been diagnosed with Oral Lichen Planus and have heard that using coconut oil for pulling has benefits. I don’t want to continue on with a prednasone based mouthwash on a long term basis and am wondering if the coconut oil pulling would have benefits to me to control the lesions and ulcers in my mouth. Hope to hear from you.
    Terri P

  40. If gum bleeding (around one molar) commences in the days after beginning oil pulling, will it stop if the OP is continued? In other words, is this a temporary healing crisis and a good sign (that infection or toxins are being drawn out), or should oil pulling be stopped at this point?

  41. I have experienced Burning Mouth Snydrome. 3 years ago was the first. Felt like the roof of my mouth was burned but I didn’t burn it on anything. It lasted for weeks and was very painful. I didn’t know what it was. Went to the family dr who gave me miracle mouth wash, didn’t work.
    Went to the ENT and they were mystified, never seen anything like it, tested me for cancer and treated a sore that developed out of it with dental steroid cream. Also sent me to dentist to try to figure it out. Eventually it went a way about 2 months later.
    Now it hit me again in Oct, 2017. This time I did my own research and found the Burning Mouth Syndrome which described it to the T. That report was from Mayo Clinic. It said no cure and that it was rare.
    A friend told me about coconut pulling. I read about it, tried it. It immediately comforted my mouth. Till the next morning, half of the swelling and the pain in the roof of my mouth was gone. I did it the 2nd day and I no longer had any pain. I still had a little tenderness on the roof of my mouth because it was so deep. But I cannot believe the results! It definitely healed me.
    I am so thankful!!!!!! I did share this info with my dentist.

  42. I have good oral hygiene and only a very few fillings but I have always had really bad breath: my friends commented on it when I was in middle school. At night I have dry mouth and a very bad taste in my mouth. I’d like to try oil pulling to improve my bad breath and nighttime dry mouth but I had Bell’s Palsy and I can’t press my lips together on the right side strongly enough to hold liquids in when ‘swishing.’ I always have to lean over the sink when I rinse my mouth after brushing, because it’s messy on the side that was paralyzed.

    My question is, I wonder if I can get the same or a similar effect as oil pulling just by brushing first with toothpaste and then with coconut oil and then waiting a while to spit out any excess oil? In other words, does there need to be a lot of oil, and does it need to be ‘pulled’/swished to have an effect, or would simply coating my teeth and gums with oil work? Any advice or perspective you can offer would be welcome. Thanks.

    • Jess, I don’t know the answer to your question exactly. I do know that a g’friend of mine had bad breath & since she’s done the oil pulling, her husband said that went away. But she’s very disciplined it seems too … swishing & swishing.

  43. I have weak enamel on my front teeth and am struggling to find safe and effective ways to whiten my teeth. Can oil pulling help with that at all? This article says no, but several others I have read says yes, and to do so with olive oil.

  44. I have frequent mouth sores that often take time to heal. I started pulling using virgin coconut oil a couple of months ago and since then the mouth sores, when I do have them last for a day or two and are not as painful. I wonder if gargling with water for the same time will have the same results.

  45. My gums would bleed when I flossed sometimes and I developed two #5 pockets. I started to oil pull with organic, cold-pressed coconut oil and my gums soon stopped bleeding. Upon my next annual check of pockets, all the numbers improved and my dentist said my gums looked good. He also said the same to my husband who oil pulls as well. That said, I did just complete a deep cleaning, but I do know my gums and mouth in general feel great from oil pulling. My teeth feel smooth all day, never furry lol.

    • Oil pulling has also worked for me. I have been doing it for a little over a week now and I have removed some plaque and hard tartar. I have a little left to go. I agree with Sevast it’s not always going to be immediately for all you teeth.

      It may take some time as you stay consistant and to answer you question.

      I use and highly recommend unrefined extra virgin organic or unrefined virgin organic pressed coconut oil.
      I use maybe a teaspoon or enough to swish in my mouth for 20-25 mins. I then disgaurd it from my mouth and thoroughly rise with water.
      After that I use my mixture of baking soda, salt and turemic on my electric toothbrush to brush each individual tooth. Inside, outside, top, back, under, etc. Then I rise my mouth out with just a tiny bit of listerine and my mouth is fresh the whole day and I repeat it again at night before bed.

      “Oh, it works alright”, but I still have to floss after I brush during this process.

      That’s the only way you could expect it to work and that’s by being consistent and thorough with this process twice a day with an electric toothbrush.

      Most importantly a change in you diet is helpful. I have coconut oil in my morning coffee, I bought a blender to make my variety of smothies, especially berries and a little bit of Kale ice cubes I made. Raisins I found out is also good for your teeth.

      These are good for your health inside and out. Antioxidants, beneficial for physical and oral health

  46. I tried oil pulling for the first time tonight I had to spit it out in the first 5 mins. because I almost gagged as the oil started doubling in size in my mouth I guess doing it 5 minutes 4 times a day is just as good, I got the idea from Doctor Oz

  47. tomorrow do 6 minutes. add a minute a day until you are up to 20. it’s about training your mouth to not bring the oil into the throat. it just takes a while be patient. and only use a teaspoon in the beginning.

  48. Hi Dr. I started oil pulling from yesterday but i noticed that after oil pulling blood came out of my gums while spitting that. I want to know why that happend and is it a matter of worry

  49. I have lost my sense of taste for years and have done a few tests – even an MRI to exclude brain tumour – I really dont know why i cannot taste my food – when I eat it seems that the taste is faint or non existent.

    Would oil pulling help regain my tastebuds..Im desperate for help. Some say its medication but i cannot recall having taken anything drastic. Happy to start Oil Pulling and do so on a daily basis

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