Oil pulling with coconut oil reduces gum disease and bad breath

Oil pulling dates back more than 3,000 years ago, where it first started in India as an Ayurvedic technique used to clean the mouth and teeth. Fill a spoonful of coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth like mouthwash for up to 20 minutes at a time. Oil pulling has been said to relieve toothaches, whiten teeth, freshen breath, absorb harmful bacteria, and possibly even cure the common cold. Many people also mention how good their mouth feels after washing with coconut oil in the mornings, and it lasts all day.

The reason for this: tooth decay is caused by bacteria and previous studies suggest that coconut oil mixed with enzymes in your saliva will help inhibit growth of certain bacteria. Though oil pulling isn’t meant to be a substitute for going to regular dental visits or brushing and flossing your teeth, it can work wonders in lessening bacterial load in the mouth, and therefore the body, helping you sustain a strong immune system. When bad bacteria enters the body through the bloodstream, it can potentially get stuck in the wrong place, such as scar tissue on the heart, and can make people very sick. Here is some advice to help you learn how coconut oil pulling can help you to sustain a high level of oral and overall health.


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  • give it a try
  • refresh your memory of basic biology
  • understand the science behind the theory
  • try coconut oil first if available
  • be extra mindful of your oral hygiene if pregnant

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  • swallow the oil
  • spit the oil in the sink or toilet
  • forget to rinse with water
  • be frightened by this holistic approach
  • replace oil pulling with routine dental care

Dr. Jessica T. Emery‘s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do give it a try

Why not? There are no harmful side effects. The state of your oral health may not improve after one session of oil pulling, but if you can manage to keep it up, you might find yourself reaping the practice’s long term benefits. People look at the mouth as isolated, but it is the window to the entire body. Allowing bad bacteria to get into the bloodstream can affect systemic health. Many people note that tooth pain subsides substantially, which makes sense because Vitamin E oil is used to soothe the gums and clove oil to sooth toothaches.

Do refresh your memory of basic biology

Most microorganisms inhabiting the mouth consist of a single cell. Cells are covered with a lipid (fatty) membrane, which is the cell’s skin. When you add two oils together they combine because they are attracted to each other. Therefore, when you swish around oil in your mouth, the fatty membranes of the microorganisms are attracted to it.

Do understand the science behind the theory

As the oil hits your teeth and gums, microbes are picked up as though they are being drawn to a powerful magnet. Bacteria hiding under crevices in the gums and in pores and tubules within the teeth are sucked out of their hiding places and held firmly in the solution. The longer you push and pull the oil through your mouth, the more microbes are pulled free. The oil needs to be swished around long enough for it to turn a milky white, which indicates that the bacteria has been “pulled” off. After roughly 20 minutes, the solution is filled with bacteria, viruses and other organisms.

Do try coconut oil first if available

According to many users oil pulling can relieve toothaches, whiten teeth, freshen breath, absorb harmful bacteria and even cure the common cold. While I can’t support every claim out there, if the mouth is staying as clean as possible, that is a good thing. People use different types of oil such as sesame and sunflower oil, but these oils both have omega 6 fats which are pro inflammatory and most of us have too much of these in our diet as it is. Coconut oil is preferred because 50% of the fat in coconut oil is comprised of the bacteria whooping ingredient lauric acid. Regardless of which lipid (sesame, sunflower, coconut) you pick, it seems that people can pull their way to a cleaner mouth. Oral bacteria are fat-loving. Swishing the oil around your mouth attracts the bad bugs to help pull it off of surfaces.

Do be extra mindful of your oral hygiene if pregnant

The more inflamed the tissues (gingivitis), the more blood and bad bacteria from inside the mouth can travel into the body. Pregnant women readily develop gingivitis due to hormones. Bacteria from the mouth can get into the body and lead to premature delivery. Dental and medical practitioners, as well as obstetricians and gynecologists, recommend that expectant mothers schedule regular dental visits throughout pregnancy to avoid giving birth to babies with low birth weights. Oil pulling can be a positive supplemental therapy to routine dental visits, because it lessens the bacterial load in the mouth and therefore, the body. A healthy mom-to-be is key to ensuring a healthy baby.

Dr. Jessica T. Emery‘s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not swallow the oil

When you are finished swishing around the oil in your mouth (“pulling”), spit the bacteria-filled solution into the trash. You don’t want to swallow the oil that has pulled all of the harmful bacteria in your mouth – this defeats the purpose.

Do not spit the oil in the sink or toilet

Discarding the oil in the sink or down the toilet may build up and clog the pipes over time. There should be no need to pay a plumber to unclog your drain due to a new supplemental at home oral hygiene routine. Spit the oil into a trash can or container, just like you would bacon grease.

Do not forget to rinse with water

Rinse your mouth out with water thoroughly before consuming any flavored beverage. Any remaining oil residue may cause the next beverage you drink to taste odd or bad if you do not rinse your mouth with enough water.

Do not be frightened by this holistic approach

If oil pulling is something that will make people more aware of their oral hygiene, then why not try it? Some people who swear by it, tell me it is making their teeth whiter and their gums less sensitive. There are so many well-known health perks to coconut oil already, including promoting a healthy thyroid and metabolism, increase insulin function, and is an overall better alternative to use when cooking than other types of oils that aren’t heart healthy; swishing it around in your mouth might be an additional benefit. A reason for this being the antimicrobial properties that coconut oil has to offer.

Do not replace oil pulling with routine dental care

Used in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing, oil pulling could actually help you. However, it must be stated how extremely important it is for people to know that oil pulling does not replace routine dental visits and home care. You still need to see your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups.

In fact, ask your dentist about oil pulling to see what s/he thinks about you trying it. They may have some more insight about how it can be beneficial to you.


To recap, the phrase “oil pulling” comes from the process of the oil being worked in the mouth by pushing, pulling and sucking it through the teeth. As you work (swish) the oil around in your mouth, it sucks up bacteria and toxins. It helps decrease chance of gum disease, bad breath and bleeding gums. The less bad bacteria in your mouth the better. At the same time, it could help you achieve a bright white smile and healthy pink gums. Coconut oil treated with enzymes found in your saliva seems to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria.

Keep in mind that there is no solid scientific proof that it works, but it certainly makes people feel better. Your cheeks may get tired, but swish away! It certainly can’t hurt. And if you have any questions about oil pulling, ask your own dentist to see for yourself.

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