Fact Or Myth: Does Oil Pulling Really Work?

TikTok is never short of health and hygiene hacks that claim to usher in the start of a “clean girl era.” And of these, oil pulling with coconut oil has become the latest dental care trend that has many of us asking, is this just another trendy gimmick, or does this mouthwash alternative hold up to its claims?

Well, as we’ve come to learn, the answer lies somewhere in between.

What Is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is an oral care remedy that involves swishing oil around in your mouth to promote oral hygiene.

The practice typically involves using a tablespoon of oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil, and swishing it around in your mouth for about 15-20 minutes.

Fans of the oil-pulling method claim that its benefits include removing toxins from the body, improving oral health by reducing bacteria and plaque, giving you fresher breath, and even providing benefits for conditions such as gingivitis. Some have even shared that they’ve seen improvements in their hormonal issues, digestion, migraine headaches, and fatigue.

While oral health is said to be the “window to your overall health,” scientific evidence supporting these claims is limited to validate the effectiveness of oil pulling. Still, that hasn’t slowed down its popularity.

What The Science Says. 

One study found a significant decrease in plaque and gingivitis over seven days, which continued to decrease 30 days after the study. A 2017 study suggested that oil pulling has antibacterial activity against plaque and bacteria, showing a 20% reduction in microbial count in the oral cavity after following a 40-day oil-pulling routine. Additionally, in the same study, oil pulling with sesame oil was believed to be comparable to gold-standard mouthwash rinses in addressing bad breath and fighting bacteria.

On the other hand, the American Dental Association (ADA) notes that there is no solid scientific evidence supporting the claims that oil pulling reduces cavities, whitens teeth, or enhances overall oral health. Due to this lack of evidence, the ADA does not endorse oil pulling as a dental hygiene practice. Instead, it’s best to use oil pulling as a complementary measure to support oral hygiene rather than a replacement for established and proven dental care routines.

How To Oil Pull Effectively.

If you’re looking to include oil-pulling into your routine, here's a simple guide to doing the oil-pulling method effectively:

  1. Select a high-quality oil such as coconut, sesame, or sunflower oil. About one tablespoon is typically sufficient.
  2. As a best practice, perform oil pulling on an empty stomach, ideally in the morning, swishing for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Spit the oil into a trash can (not the sink, as it can clog pipes). Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water or saltwater.

The overall consensus is that oil pulling is just fine to do. With it being a traditional technique that existed before chemical mouthwash was created, it will cause no long-term harm and is a beneficial method to adopt for those looking to take a more holistic and natural approach to their oral hygiene.

While oil pulling can be part of your routine, it's not a substitute for brushing and flossing. Continue your regular oral hygiene practices for optimal dental health, and if you want to follow the dentist’s order, use a dentist-recommended mouthwash like TheraBreath or Colgate Totalafter you've brushed and flossed to achieve that radiant smile.

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