Oil Pulling–Amazing Benefits, How to, & My Experience

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Today we’re talking about Coconut Oil Pulling–what oil pulling is, oil pulling benefits, how to do oil pulling and my fascinating oil pulling experience.

Truth be told (not that I would ever lie to you), I never thought I would write about this topic, because I thought it was silly. But my experience changed my mind on that. So let’s dive in!

Coconut oil in a glass jar with a spoon coming out of it and coconut in the background

So, I’d heard about oil pulling a lot time before I finally tried it out. I thought it was a silly thing and that there wouldn’t be very many benefits, so why bother doing it?

Plus, it sounded messy to me.

Yes, I was an oil pulling skeptic.

Similarly, I used to be an essential oil skeptic, thought that the autism epidemic wasn’t real (until it hit our home), and I also thought that food allergies were just a way for people to stay on a diet (yup, that one became a reality in our family too).

Now, once I tried essential oils when I was really sick, I changed my mind about those. And once I had a son with multiple life-threatening food allergies, and I also had my own intolerances, that thinking about food allergies had to go too.

And once you have a kid on the autistic spectrum and you see all of the kids around you who have it too and you think back to how few there were when you were younger, you know that autism is on the rise.

But the oil pulling thing? It kept nagging at me.

I wondered if I was missing something.

But I didn’t know how to do it or what oil to choose or when on earth I would do this thing called coconut oil pulling when I am already way too busy.

This mama ain’t got time to just sit around and swish oil in my mouth, you know?

Well, one day, for some reason, my curiosity go the best of me, and I thought it was worth a shot. I looked it up how to do oil pulling on multiple sites, figured out what oil I wanted to try, found a way to incorporate it into my morning routine, and went for it.

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What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is simply swishing an oil (typically sesame, sunflower, olive, or coconut oil) around in your mouth for approximately 20 minutes a day to improve oral (and possibly overall) health.

Oil pulling cleans or detoxifies the mouth. It seems odd, but it really works. There are even studies showing the effect of It literally sucks the dirt (toxins) out of your mouth and creates a clean, antiseptic oral environment that contributes to the proper flow of dental liquid that’s needed to prevent cavities and disease.

History of Oil Pulling

Oil pulling originated in India as part of Ayurvedic medicine, a tradition of holistic medicine from thousands of years ago. Other oral health practices from Ayurvedic traditions included chewing on sticks and eating herbs.

Ayurvedic practitioners prescribed oil pulling for inflammation of the mouth, dryness or other ailments.

The pulling of oil through ones teeth is often considered to be the oldest form of dental care. This is interesting since many of the studies that I cite below mentioned that they concluded that their work showed promise that this technique could be of help for those in developing nations where better dental care is often needed.

collage of coconut oil in glass jars with spoons and title saying coconut oil pulling tips and benefits.

Coconut Oil Pulling Benefits

Oil pulling is a powerful Ayurvedic technique for detox that has recently become very popular as an alternative remedy for ailments. It has been used in India for many years and it has been claimed there, and elsewhere, that it has the following benefits.

Keep in mind, that there is no real proof that oil pulling actually treats anything outside of dental benefits, but this is what has been thought by some to be the case.

  1. Boost Immunity
  2. Eliminate Bad Breath
  3. Improves Dental Health (source, source, source)
  4. Clears Sinus and Throat Congestion
  5. Prevent Heart Issues
  6. Reduces Inflammation
  7. Whitens Teeth
  8. Soothes Dry Throat
  9. Heals Cracked Lips
  10. Can Help with Acne & other Skin Concerns
  11. Strengthens Teeth, Gums, and Jaws
  12. Fights candida (source)
  13. Helps as a Natural Allergy Remedy

At the same time, since oral health is linked to many of the above health issues, it makes sense that if oil pulling has beneficial effects on oral health, that the other health benefits should or could result as well.

Oil Pulling and Oral Health

There are some fascinating studies showing the benefits of oil pulling. I cited some above, but here is a summary of them so you can see the facts more readily.

Oil Pulling vs Chlorhexedine against Streptococcus Mutans

In this study of twenty teens, sesame oil pulling was shown to be comparable to a popular dental antibiotic in reducing Streptococcus mutans bacteria, which is a significant contributor to tooth decay. The authors of this study said that “Oil pulling can be used as an effective preventive adjunct in maintaining and improving oral health.” (source)

Oil Pulling and Gingivitis

In this study, oil pulling was shown to be comparable to chlorhexedine for its effects on gingivitis amongst teens. (source)

Oil Pulling and Bad Breath

This study showed that again, vs chlorhexedine, oil pulling was just as effective in remedying bad breath. (source)

Wow. So the next time your dentist recommends chlorhexedine, maybe you should pull out a jar of coconut oil instead!!

Oil Pulling and Teeth Whitening

Many people (including myself) say that oil pulling works for whitening teeth. The question is, however, how does that happen?

Clearly oil pulling removes food particles and should rinsing away bacteria, but it’s said that the high fat content of the oil decreases the porosity of the teeth and reduces the likelihood that bacteria and food particles get trapped and reduces the chances of staining.

What Is the Best Oil for Oil Pulling–Is Coconut Oil Really Better?

Some say that sesame oil is the most effective oil to do oil pulling with, but technically you could pull olive oil, sesame seed oil, coconut oil, ghee, or almond oil.

Misinformation About Coconut Oil Benefits in Oil Pulling

There is some misinformation on the internet regarding the benefits of using coconut oil vs other oils. Some (I found one blogger at least) are saying that in a study at the Athlone Institute of Technology, researchers tested coconut oil, olive oil, and vegetable oil and that coconut oil was shown to be the most effective as it was shown to prevent Streptococcus mutans from binding to and damaging tooth enamel.

S. Mutans is an acid-producing bacterium that is a major cause of tooth decay. Also notable is that the modified coconut oil was effective against candida as well.

However, that’s not the whole story. The study showed that ENZYME-MODIFIED COCONUT OIL (not regular coconut oil) was the most effective. And sorry, but I don’t know where to buy that. In fact, I think you can’t. Maybe the enzymes in your mouth can modify the coconut oil, but I’m not sure, so it might not matter at all what kind of oil you use until some scientist makes and sells enzyme-modified coconut oil, in which case then that is the one you want to buy. (source)

That whole situation seems odd to me. That study was back in 2012–if enzyme-modified coconut oil is that great, why isn’t anyone making it? And where did they get it?

Anyhow, apparently sesame and coconut oil are somewhat more abrasive than other oils so those should therefore produce better cleaning action. At least I read that, but I couldn’t find anything substantial to back it up.

How to Do Coconut Oil Pulling

  1. Put 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of oil in your mouth. I find about 1.5 – 2 teaspoons to be a good amount. I don’t bother measuring exactly–I just put some on a small spoon and put the spoon in my mouth :).
  2. If using an oil that is solid at room temperature, let it soften for a moment or two.
  3. Swish the oil back and forth between your teeth for at least 15-20 minutes (Note that throughout history oil wasn’t necessarily swished for this long.)
  4. Spit the oil out.

If you have to expel the oil before the 15-20 minutes are up (due to mucous accumulating), just get more oil and continue pulling until the 15-20 minutes are up.

Helpful Tips & FAQs

Add Benefits with Essential Oils

You can incorporate a drop of a tincture or essential oil into the mix to add benefits. For example, if you are having a bone issue, you could add Comfrey Tincture to the coconut oil. For added antibacterial action, add an antibacterial essential oil blend or some other essential oil with antibacterial qualities. The coconut oil is an excellent essential oil emulsifier.

Don’t Clog Your Pipes!

Don’t spit saturated fats down your sink drain or any other drain in your house, as it might lead to clogs. The trash is a better place for spitting :).

Does Coconut Oil Pulling Make You Gag?

Since originally publishing this post, I heard that some people gave up on oil pulling since they have a gag reflex. It might help for you to try to subdue your gag reflex by tipping your head a little bit forward when you oil pull. This stops the oil from coming in contact with the back of your throat. It might be more difficult to oil pull for a full 20 minutes in that position, but you can do whatever you are able.

Do You Have to Oil Pull In the Morning?

Many sources online say that you should oil pull first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach.

I couldn’t find out why the empty stomach thing was important but here are a few benefits mentioned about pulling in the morning versus later in the day:

  • bacteria builds up in your mouth overnight, so pulling and getting that out of your mouth first thing is a good idea
  •  one source said that oil pulling in the morning helps to stimulate the appetite and enhance the sense of taste.

My feeling is that you could brush your teeth first thing and that you could boost your appetite any time of day, or use digestive bitters to do that, so I don’t personally think it matters when you do it.

If you have some information on the empty stomach part, please do let me know!

My First Experience with Coconut Oil Pulling

Over the course of several months, I did the oil pulling thing. My morning routine would go as follows:

  • Wake up
  • Brush Mouth Guard
  • Walk Stumble to the Kitchen
  • Drink some warm water with fresh squeezed or bottled organic lemon juice.
  • Take my probiotic (depending on which one I am taking, I will either take it before or after swishing.
  • Put about 1 teaspoon of organic coconut oil into my mouth
  • Swish the coconut oil for about 15-30 minutes before eating
  • While swishing, start making my Homemade Coffee Substitute in my French Press Coffee Maker

I didn’t notice any incredible results regarding my oral health, but I will say that sometimes I thought that my mouth felt pretty clean without even having brushed my teeth. Interesting.

At my next dental checkup, however, my hygienist commented that I didn’t have much or any staining on my teeth. Hmmmm…

I mentioned to her that I had been oil pulling coconut oil, and she seemed intrigued.

Fast forward another 6 months.

I saw the same hygienist again. She commented again on how little staining my teeth had.

Fast forward another 6 months. Same hygienist.

This time, she said “So what’s the oil thing you were talking about?”

Oil Pulling and Tooth Sensitivity

Typically people have benefits from oil pulling, but in some odd cases, oil pulling can cause sensitivity.

It actually happened to me once.

I did it for years and had no problems, but later I developed an intensely sensitive tooth and had no idea why.

It turned out that it was oil pulling.

I was already using the amazing mouth rinse mentioned in this post about glycerin in toothpaste. However, I then started oil pulling again. And my tooth went from slightly sensitive to increasingly sensitive.

From my research, I think that using that combined with the pulling removed too much of the biofilm from my teeth.

The biofilm harbors bad bacteria that the pulling helps with, by removing that bacteria.

However, it also brings in calcium and phosphorous from the saliva to help with remineralization. So if you remove too much of it, you can’t remineralize your teeth after they are demineralized from acidic or sweet foods. (source)

I stopped the oil pulling and gradually my tooth came back to normal.

A Super Powerful Oil Pulling Blend

While coconut oil is a great oil to use for oil pulling, sesame oil has been used for a very long time and olive oil has as well.

You can use just plain oil or you can use a blend especially made for this purpose.

This blend from Oliveda is made from sustainable and specially raised Arbequina olive trees in the mountains of Spain.

Olive leaves (that are rich in hydroxytyrosol and other polyphenols) from those same olive trees are steeped in the olive oil for 4-6 weeks and then other beneficial ingredients are added for more benefits.

I personally love this oil and use just 1 teaspoon per day to make it last longer.

They have both a Mint Mouth Oil and Lavender Mouth Oil.

oliveda moroccan mint mouth oil cure.

There are some great ways to save on this, besides just using 1 teaspoon. I think a little more is great too, but I seem to have good results with that amount.

You can:

  • go on Subscribe and Save to save 10% (cancel or edit at anytime)
  • there’s free shipping at $50
  • you can buy sets to get other things at discount.
  • take their Olive Brain Quiz and if you buy two of their recommended products, you’ll get another product for free.

My Final Thoughts

So there’s definitely something to this oil pulling thing. I personally think it really does help to clean your teeth and keep your gums healthy, but for sure it helps with staining.

So skip the toxic teeth whiteners (and maybe the toxic antibiotics, but of course, consult with your dentist first) and swish instead :)!

Have you ever oil pulled?
Would you try coconut oil pulling?

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  1. Just came across this post. Great info. I’ve been meaning to incorporate oil pulling for a while now. One question – does it have to be first thing in the morning? Could I do it after breakfast, a little later in the morning or before bed at night? Or will it be less beneficial then? Just wondering why most articles say to do it first thing in the morning.

    1. Hi there. Thanks so much for the kind words. I just updated the post a bit and included information about oil pulling in the morning. Let me know if that helps!

      1. Hi Adrienne,
        Thank you so much for your reply and providing the additional information. I guess I’ll just try to incorporate it whenever I can. It’s a tough one though, need my coffee first thing in the morning

        1. You are so welcome! I’m glad I was able to make the post more helpful. About the morning coffee, are you saying that it will be tough to incorporate any time because of the coffee or just that since you need your morning coffee and you aren’t going to oil pull then that it will be harder to find another time?

  2. Does it matter which type of coconut oil to use for pulling? Like organic, virgin, etc.?

    Adding EO is interesting, I may try it since I have issue with bone loss.

    1. Hi there. It is really up to you but I would choose quality products to avoid pesticides or toxins, as in I wouldn’t want an oil w/ hexene residues swishing around in my mouth :).

    2. Have you lost a lot of bone? Just asking since I have done some research into that. It’s tough!

      1. Hi Adrienne

        Yes, have lost teeth as a result of that unfortunately. I would like to find out if there is a way to stop further loss.

        1. I’m so sorry – I think it would depend on why the bone loss is happening. Autoimmune or bacteria, etc. Has anyone determined that?

          1. No, other than saying they believe it’s bacteria and yet some others say it’s in the genes. I’m basically just trying to find options to see what helps, but even that is difficult to know if anything is going to help.

              1. I will add a few things that I found in my research / experience. One dentist told me that it’s all autoimmune. Another was shocked to hear that he had said that and he said that he felt diet and absorption levels were crucial. Someone else had mentioned bacteria, etc. One dental practitioner said to make sure to clean toothbrushes, etc really well w/ peroxide, etc. And to rinse with diluted peroxide or some kind of really good antibacterial rinse. She also mentioned that monitoring vitamin D levels was important.

  3. Yes, I oil pull and like you thought it was a bunch of woo-woo when I first heard of it. But as skeptic as i am, I give a lot of things a try. In fact I tried it many years ago and couldn’t quite get over the texture of all that oil in my mouth so I gave up on it. …Until about 6 months ago. I have always had sensitive teeth and bleeding gums. But I was beginning to wake up with this gross taste in my mouth. So I recalled oil pulling. I’m already an avid essential oil user, formulating and retailing natural & nourishing personal care products so pairing the E.O.s with coconut oil made it palatable for me to work up to 20 minutes with no problem. (Note I couldn’t go more than 3 minutes in the beginning…SO keep at it. :o)) Immediately my breath improved (even morning breath) and I felt like I didn’t have to brush my teeth at all when I would oil pull. My gums barely bleed at all anymore (occasionally they will when flossing but not near as much) and this is going to sound strange but I actually feel better when I oil pull. I begin the day doing it first thing in the morning, while making my husband’s lunch and then the bed and starting a load of wash. I usually use peppermint E.O. Sometimes I will use clove bud or wintergreen E.O. It just depends on what mood I’m in.

  4. I have found your blogs very interesting and informative and very well researched. Thank you for honest, good information.
    There is not enough time in the day for me to research all the things I want and it’s great to find a place that has done so much of it for me!!! You are awesome !

    1. Wow – thank you so much, Tami!! Bless you! 2 more heavy-research posts are in the works. One should be up tomorrow :).

  5. Thank you so much for this post! It gave me enough great info to give oil pulling another shot. I tried it once a few years ago and felt like I was going to gag. But after reading your article I tried it again and it wasn’t that bad. I couldn’t believe how clean my teeth felt afterward!!!! The benefits outweigh the minor uncomfortableness of it. I just made sure I kept myself busy during the 20 minutes and the time went faster than I thought it would. I am going to try doing this on a regular basis now!!!

    1. Wow Holly – that is so great!!! I know, it really isn’t that bad when you are doing something else. Thanks for coming back to share and so nice to hear from you again! Hope you are well.

  6. Are there any tips for those of us with sensitive gag reflexes – and a real dislike for oily textures in the mouth?? I’ve unsuccessfully tried oil pulling but end up gagging. Is there hope for me?

    1. Hi Sara! Glad you asked b/c someone on my Facebook page mentioned the same thing. I’m adding a tip to the post not – thanks again and I so hope it works!

  7. Would like to receive healthy recipes and all kind of healthy tips for mature skin like for age spots sagging dark circles or wrinkles thank you

    1. Hi there. You can sign up for updates here: https://wholenewmom.com/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-essential-oils-before-you-buy/ I do really like this skincare: https://wholenewmom.com/beautycounter/ and some of their products supposedly help w/ dark spots – the toner pads is one of them. I personally love these Face Exercises (this is an affiliate link and if you make a purchase I will make a commission). https://www.carolynsfacialfitness.com/?ref=183 It really works!

      Thanks for reading!

  8. does it have to be in the morning? also i am assuming that you are using non flouride toothpaste

  9. I’ve been doing oil pulling for 4 years. I go to the dentist twice per year as I should and he says that he’s never seen a healthier mouth than mine. I highly recommend it to anyone. On the up side, I am very rarely sick anymore and my face isn’t near as dry!!! I love this!

    1. No way – how amazing!! The face benefits really amaze me. I guess you are absorbing it?

      1. Well, it specifically removes toxins from your mouth and does get absorbed. It’s suppose to help with teeth sensitivity but I’ll have to defer to someone else for that. I don’t have any teeth sensitivity at all. They could drill in mine and I’d never feel it (which is why it’s mandatory that I visit the dentist twice per year because I’ll never know if I have teeth problems). My cousin has reported a big decrease in headaches as well since she started oil pulling. So, all in all, I think it’s a wonderful practice and has health benefits too. My dentist highly recommends it.

        1. Wow again about your teeth! That is fascinating about your cousin! I think the research in the post on the bacteria vs the antibiotics is amazing.