Oil Pulling For Oral Health

Learn about the latest rage touted by natural health advocates, how it's done, and why you should add it to your oral health regime.

Oil pulling is the missing link to oral wellness, as it addresses the health of our gums and entire mouth, not just the teeth. It is a simple yet vital practice to include in your proactive health regime, in addition to brushing and flossing your teeth. Oral health also impacts overall health as the body’s internal systems interact and support health and healing as a whole. Although oil pulling is currently all the rage among natural health advocates in the USA, it is not a new health practice, but one that dates back to ancient India.

The History of Oil Pulling and Health Benefits
Ayurvedic medicine has utilized plant-based treatments for centuries. Originating in India over 3,000 years ago, it is considered the world’s oldest healthcare system. Oil pulling has effectively been used in Ayurvedic healing practices. Oil pulling is a natural oral detoxification treatment that has been reported to cure bleeding and inflammation of the gums, cracked lips, bad breath, tooth decay, and more. It is also noted for its preventive qualities: ridding the mouth of toxins and bacteria that cause decay, and strengthening the gums and teeth.

So What Is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is simply the technique of gently swishing oil in your mouth, first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, or when fasting, for about 20 minutes, for oral detoxification. Do not gargle or swallow the oil, as it is collecting the bacteria and toxins from your mouth.  The twenty minutes can go by quickly if you are engaged in preparing breakfast, showering, or reading the morning headlines while oil pulling. Spit the oil into the toilet after swishing. Next, rinse your mouth with warm water and spit, to remove any remaining oil. Afterwards, brush your teeth.

What Oil Should You Use?
It’s no wonder that coconut oil, known for its anti-microbial and other healing properties, is the most popular oil currently used in oil pulling. Use whatever amount feels comfortable, about one tablespoon. If you have a sensitive gag reflex, use less. For additional antimicrobial support, you can add a drop or two of clove, cinnamon or orange therapeutic grade essential oil to the spoon of coconut oil and swish, or brush your teeth afterwards with remineralizing toothpaste containing essential oils. You determine how often to oil pull, 3 to 5 times a week. (Note: coconut oil is solid at room temperature but will melt immediately at body temperature).

If you are new to oil pulling, you may have a few questions. Dr. Eric L. Zielinski, DC, and a public health researcher at www.drericz.com, provided answers to these questions.

Q.  Most articles on oil pulling suggest that you do so first thing in the morning? What is the reason for this and can it be done another time effectively? I also see recommendations for oil pulling on an empty stomach. Why is this important since we aren’t swallowing the oil?

Dr. ZLike any detoxification process, it is best to do oil pulling on an empty stomach. It’s all about maximizing our metabolism. It is important to remember that the term ‘metabolism’ has been widely confused as only referring to the breakdown of food and weight loss. Metabolism is best defined as “the whole range of biochemical processes that occur within a living organism. Metabolism consists of anabolism (the buildup of substances) and catabolism (the breakdown of substances).”

When our bodies are digesting food our metabolic reserves are being used up to assimilate this nutrition, NOT on detoxification. It is, therefore, advantageous to oil pull first thing in the morning, or when fasting, so that the body can completely focus on ridding itself of lipid-soluble toxins. Like laundry detergent or dish soap that removes the grease and grime from our clothes and dishes, the coconut oil that you swish around in your mouth will literally suck out the fat-soluble toxins from your oral cavity.

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Deborah Tukua

Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.

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I think it is an important thing to NOT spit the coconut oil down the toilet. It will solidify and may block your pipes. Even if it doesn’t affect your property, it will go into the local sewers and create expensive-to-fix problems for your local authority. Better to spit into Kitchen Paper and compost it.

Vicki Piebenga

Oil pulling also will help your teeth to look whiter and brighter. It works!


Switch to a no fluorinate toothpaste, natural without the chemicals. Tom’s is pretty good. The chemicals cause gum disease and it hard for the body to handle.


A very good practice !.
You can use also olive oil (very good for gums diseases) and also sunflower oil.
Success !

Catherine Reid

Wonderful practice.
To keep your drains clear, the used oil should be spit into the GARBAGE.

Kimberly S Augustson

I’m curious to try this procedure. I have dental issues that are related to a combination of medication side effects, and having Sjögren’s Syndrome (basically my saliva and sweat glands don’t work). I don’t have dental insurance, so anything I can do to help maintain oral health is an absolute necessity!


Hello. After oil pulling,and cleaning my mouth. I will eat a teaspoon of coconut oil a
couple times a week,or every other day.Right now i have lime disease,and want to eat
some everyday.


I started pulling a couple of weeks ago. I have gum disease and am hoping this will help. We’ll see at my next cleaning!!

Susan Morrison

Thank you so much for educating all of us on this practice! For those who have a history of gum disease, this is certainly worth trying & adding to the dental hygiene regimen.

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