Oil Pulling: Here to stay or just a fad?


The truths and myths;

In the world of dentistry, there will always be the passing fads and crazes. One of these fads that has stuck around for quite a while is the concept of oil pulling or rinsing. As with any new fad or craze, there is always the question of whether they truly work, or its just some very effective celebrity marketing.

This review will look to further understand the idea behind oil pulling and its many claimed benefits. What this review and its subsequent research has found is that there is a myriad of health improvements claimed by oil pulling and its supporters, however, the actual scientific evidence based results are limited at best.

The concept of oil pulling is not a new idea. It is actually an ancient and traditional remedy that has been used throughout Asia and India for centuries for the cure of various ailments. The practice itself involves placing a table spoon of oil in your mouth first thing in the morning, yes before brushing or that morning coffee! This oil is kept in the mouth for anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes and swished around between the teeth and around the gums. This is then followed up with a mouth rinse and then regular brushing. The belief behind this is that the oil will begin to pull the various toxins in the body out from the teeth and gums whilst also reducing bacteria and plaque in the mouth.

Now whilst there are various blogs and health articles claiming the various health benefits, many of these are yet to have any scientific evidence as backing. The majority of people will have heard of the benefits of oil pulling in relation to whitening, cleanliness and the prevention of tooth decay. The theory behind this is that the oil will help to penetrate the much deeper stains and with continued use also help to lift them from the tooth surface.

Studies that have been carried out over the years to truly examine the “health benefits” of oil pulling found that some oils led to reduced amount of Streptococcus mutans- a key bacterial component responsible for tooth decay whilst another independent study also found oil pulling to assist with bad breath

One study showed that oil pulling with sesame oil has the effect of reducing Streptococcus mutans – a microbe that contributes to tooth decay – thereby improving the patient’s overall oral health. Another research study carried out, a randomized controlled pilot trial, found that oil pulling can relieve bad breath. The same research claims that the swishing action produces a soap-like effect in the mouth thereby pointing to its cleansing attributes and also assist in reducing the presence of plaque in the mouth. Another finding links the lipids in the oil to its supposed bacteria-diminishing effects. According to this research, the lipids are said to reduce the adhesion of the bacteria to the gums and teeth.Another scientific source claims that 40 days of oil pulling using sesame oil had resulted in a 20% drop in oral bacteria.

However, from a dentists perspective, this could be due to people brushing their teeth more frequently as a result of having oil in their mouth. If you were swishing oil in you moth everyday then spent a lot of time brushing and rinsing, chances are your overall oral health would also improve. It is generally agreed on by health professionals that for the most part, there are no significant, proven benefits of oil pulling. However, if this helps someone to get back on track thinking about the health of their teeth and gums, and doesn’t replace regular check ups, then I for one am for it.


Feel like you may be due for a check up? Come see our friendly staff at Complete Smiles Bella Vista and get your smile back on track today!

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