Whether you're well-versed in natural teeth whitening methods or not, you've probably heard of oil pulling.
The process has been around for centuries, is rigorously studied, and has more recently blown up on TikTok for its easy-to-follow and affordable teeth whitening capabilities.
But how does it work? And what are its benefits for oral health?
In this article, we'll explore the science behind oil pulling and the benefits it offers.
What Is Oil Pulling, And Does It Actually Work?
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic dental practice with natural teeth cleaning and whitening benefits. Practiced for centuries, oil pulling uses vegetable oils like coconut or sesame to clean and strengthen teeth.
At its core, oil pulling involves swishing an edible oil - such as sesame or coconut - around in your mouth for at least two minutes, then spitting it out. As the oil is moved through your mouth, it draws bacteria and toxins away from your teeth and gums, reducing inflammation, improving oral health, and naturally whitening teeth.
The benefits of oil pulling go beyond just whitening your teeth. Research has shown that oil pulling with coconut oil can reduce plaque and gingivitis, and may even be an effective complementary therapy for treating periodontal diseases including gingivitis. Studies have also shown that oil pulling can help to reduce bacteria that cause bad breath.
Should You Try Oil Pulling?
Of course, there are times where the answer to whether or not you should try oil pulling is a resounding "yes." But it's important to keep in mind that oil pulling is not a substitute for regular oral hygiene like brushing and flossing.
If done correctly, oil pulling can offer natural teeth whitening benefits, reduce inflammation, and improve overall oral health.
To determine if oil pulling is a good idea, follow this checklist:
- Do you have healthy, strong teeth and gums? Oil pulling isn't a quick fix for all things oral health. It works best for those who already have healthy teeth and gums and are looking for aesthetic or general health benefits like an improved smile or better breath.
- Are you looking for an easy, safe way to whiten teeth without harsh chemicals? Those who don't like the idea of using harsh chemicals like carbamide peroxide to whiten their teeth generally prefer the idea of oil pulling to traditional approaches.
- Are you interested in a natural approach to dental health that may reduce bacteria and inflammation? Natural remedies don't work as fast or as impactfully as harsh chemicals, but they can provide long-term benefits if used properly.
- Do you have any preexisting oral health conditions? If you have problems like gum disease, enamel erosion, or dental caries, you need to focus on these before adding oil pulling into your routine.
Generally, oil pulling is an excellent way to whiten your teeth and is low-cost and low-risk, making trying it worth the time and effort.
The Benefits Of Oil Pulling
Oil pulling offers many benefits to those who properly practice it. Besides whitening teeth, oil pulling can reduce inflammation from periodontal disease and reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth, which can lead to better breath.
Since pulling oils like sesame or coconut can reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth, bad breath is decreased.
During the time oil is swished around your mouth, bacteria and plaque are pulled out of the mouth and trapped in the oil which is then spit out. The result is a cleaner, fresher-smelling mouth with reduced levels of bad-breath-causing bacteria.
Oil pulling can also help reduce inflammation in the tongue and gums, improve overall gum health, and boost saliva production, which helps to wash away food particles that cause bad breath.
Healthy Teeth And Gums
For the same reasons oil pulling can freshen your breath, it can promote better dental health overall. By removing plaque and bacteria, one of the direct benefits is a reduction in cavities, gingivitis, and gum diseases.
If your gums are bleeding or inflamed, research also shows that oil pulling may help reduce inflammation and improve overall oral health.
A Whiter Smile
Generally, teeth whitening is the main reason to try oil pulling. Since teeth whitening procedures are costly and can cause sensitivity in almost all cases, oil pulling is a natural alternative.
Oil pulling can help reduce discoloration caused by coffee, tea, and smoking over time, resulting in whiter teeth. It even helps to remove the yellow coating that forms on your teeth with age.
Oil pulling can help to promote healthy sinuses by increasing mucous flow throughout the nasal passages. This can help remove irritants like dust, pollen and other allergens that can cause inflammation and congestion. Oil pulling may also boost the body's natural defenses through its antioxidant properties, helping reduce symptoms of allergies and chronic sinusitis.
May Help Prevent Cavities
Countless studies have demonstrated that oil pulling can noticeably decrease the number of bacteria in the mouth, consequently thwarting tooth decay. Some research has even indicated that oil pulling could be as successful at decreasing harmful bacteria located within saliva and plaque just as much as a typical mouthwash does.
A Balanced Routine
The traditional oral health routine consists of brushing and flossing twice per day. For those who want extra protection against bacteria and gum disease, adding oil pulling to your routine can be beneficial.
Oil pulling is an excellent way to supplement your traditional oral health practice and add an extra layer of protection for a healthier smile. It is simple, inexpensive, and effective when done properly. Try using coconut or sesame oil to start and with regular use, you will begin to notice a brighter and healthier smile.
Is Pulling Oil Good For Teeth?
Oil pulling is an excellent way to naturally clean and whiten teeth. It can reduce inflammation, plaque buildup, and bad breath while also boosting saliva production, freshening your breath, reducing cavities, and promoting healthy gums. However, it is best to consult a dentist before starting any new oral care routine if you have pre-existing dental issues or conditions.
Oil Pulling Side Effects
Oil pulling is generally safe when done properly. Still, there are a few potential side effects to consider before starting.
- Jaw soreness: The most common side effect is jaw soreness, which can be caused by swishing the oil around in your mouth for too long.
- Muscular stiffness: Accompanied by a sore jaw, some people may experience mild muscular stiffness due to the strain of swishing for extended periods.
- Headache: Swishing oil vigorously may also cause a headache due to the strain placed on the jaw and neck muscles.
- Excessive dryness: Excessively dry mouth or throat can result from oil pulling if the person does not drink enough water during and after the process.
- Mouth numbness (or little sensation in the area): If oil is kept in the mouth for too long, it can cause a slight tingling or numbness in the mouth.
Most of the time, these side effects are manageable and only last for a short period of time. If any of the side effects persist, it is best to stop oil pulling before they worsen or cause potential harm.
Want to learn more? These are the questions our customers ask us the most.
Should You Brush Your Teeth After Oil Pulling?
You don't have to brush your teeth prior to oil pulling, because it will extract food and bacteria from the oral cavity. However, brushing afterwards is crucial for making sure that any toxins drawn out during the process are completely cleansed away - so keep going even if you feel a bit strange.
Does Oil Pulling Remove Plaque?
One of the main benefits of oil pulling is its ability to remove plaque from your teeth. As you swish coconut or sesame oil around your mouth, it traps bacteria and plaque within the oil. When you spit out the oil, it takes the bacteria and plaque away with it.
Can I Oil Pull Every Day?
Oil pulling for 20 minutes every day will maximize the effectiveness of oil pulling. However, some people may find this too time-consuming or difficult to manage.
If that is the case, you can begin with a few minutes each day and slowly work up to 20 minutes. Doing it even two or three times per week still provides great benefits.
Do You Brush Your Teeth Before Or After Oil Pulling?
Brushing your teeth after oil pulling is a good idea because it ensures that any bacteria or toxins extracted during the oil pulling process are completely removed. Brushing before oil pulling is not necessary since the oil will extract food and bacteria from your mouth as you swish it around.
How Soon Will I See Results From Oil Pulling?
Despite its effectiveness, oil pulling is not a quick solution to your oral health problems. You can expect to see results from your oil pulling efforts at around the two-month mark. With consistency, you will be able to see noticeable improvements in the health and appearance of your teeth over time.
Is Oil Pulling Harmful?
Oil pulling is safe and beneficial for teeth, but overdoing it or doing it improperly can cause harm. To prevent any potential issues, avoid swishing oil for more than 20 minutes at a time or using coconut oil that's been heated up before. You should also make sure to drink enough water during and after the process to avoid dehydration or dry mouth.
How Do I Correctly Practice Oil Pulling?
To correctly pull oil, take one teaspoon of your preferred oil, such as sesame, coconut or sunflower. Swish and move the oil around in your mouth for up to 20 minutes, which will begin to draw out toxins and bacteria from your teeth and gums. When finished, spit out the oil into a trash can (not down the drain) and rinse your mouth with warm water. Repeat daily for best results.
What Should I Do After Oil Pulling?
After oil pulling, you spit the oil solution into a garbage can. Then, rinse your mouth with warm water for a few seconds to remove any residual oil or toxins from the oral cavity. Finally, brush your teeth and floss as normal to make sure you get rid of any additional bacteria that may have built up in your mouth during the process.
Why Does Oil Pulling Work Best On An Empty Stomach?
When you pull on an empty stomach, the maximum amount of enzyme-rich saliva can be generated. Saliva helps to break down the oil and toxins, which allows for more efficient extraction of bacteria and plaque from your teeth. It also helps remove toxins from your lymphatic system and can help reduce inflammation in your mouth.
Is Oil Pulling Recommended By Dentists?
Although oil pulling is not officially endorsed by the American Dental Association (ADA), many dentists do recommend it as part of an overall oral health regime. It is one of the only at-home whitening fads that actually seems to work safely on teeth and gums.
How Many Days A Week Should You Do Oil Pulling?
For maximum results, oil pulling should be an everyday habit. However, if this is not feasible, even two to three times a week can still provide great benefits. As long as you are consistent and do it for the full 20 minutes each time, you should start to see results after about two months.
Can I Rinse My Mouth After Oil Pulling?
Rinsing out your mouth with warm salt water after oil pulling can help ensure that any toxins or bacteria extracted during the process are completely removed. This can also help reduce inflammation and soreness in your mouth caused by the oil pulling session.
Does Oil Pulling Detox Your Body?
Your lymphatic system is responsible for detoxifying your body. Oil pulling helps remove toxins from your mouth and lymphatic system, which can help support the overall health of your body and detoxification of your organs.
Is It OK To Drink Water Before Oil Pulling?
It is okay to drink water before oil pulling, but an oil pulling session is most effective on an empty stomach. This allows for maximum amounts of enzyme-rich saliva to be generated, which helps break down the oil and toxins.
Should I Oil Pull In The Morning Or Night?
Since oil pulling is most effective on an empty stomach, doing so in the morning is usually best. Incorporating it into your morning routine will help you make it a habit and remember to do it consistently. However, if you are more likely to stick with it in the evenings, you can still achieve excellent results that way.
Does Olive Oil Whiten Teeth?
Olive oil can whiten teeth just like some other oils can. Although sesame and coconut oil are most commonly used for this purpose, there is a case to be made for olive oil as well. If this interests you, check out our blog on oil pulling with olive oil.
Is Oil Pulling Good For Receding Gums?
A receding gumline is something that you should take care of before considering a teeth whitening solution. Although oil pulling can remove toxins from the mouth, it won't help with the actual recession. And focusing too much on teeth whitening before fixing your oral health will worsen the problem.
Is Oil Pulling Safe During Pregnancy?
Oil pulling is generally safe during pregnancy. Since the ingredients in oil pulling are organic and non-toxic, it is a safe alternative to other teeth whitening treatments that may contain chemicals. However, other teeth whitening methods are not and should be avoided.
Is Oil Pulling Scientifically Proven?
Oil pulling is a heavily researched topic with plenty of scientific backing. Although there is no official endorsement from the ADA and studies are still being conducted, the evidence so far suggests that oil pulling is an effective and safe method of teeth whitening.
Can Oil Pulling Get Rid Of Cavities?
Oil pulling cannot get rid of cavities - that is something that needs to be done in a dentist's office. However, it can help prevent cavities and other dental problems like gum disease and tooth decay by removing bacteria from the mouth that can cause these issues.
Can Oil Pulling Remove Tartar?
Tartar is a hard, calcified deposit that accumulates on teeth and can only be removed by professional tools in your dentist’s office. However, oil pulling can help prevent the buildup of tartar by removing bacteria from the mouth before it starts to accumulate.
Can Oil Pulling Help With Periodontal Disease?
Oil pulling will not cure your periodontal disease, but it can help limit its progression of it by removing bacteria from the mouth that can cause inflammation and infection.
Can Oil Pulling Replace Flossing?
While some oil pulling proponents suggest that oil pulling is an adequate substitution for brushing and flossing, dentists strongly caution against such a practice. Practically speaking, the oil cannot adequately clean between teeth like floss or a water pick can. Even though it holds back plaque buildup, it does not remove existing plaque deposits the way flossing can.
Will Oil Pulling Help Swollen Gums?
Thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, oil pulling can help reduce symptoms of gingivitis, including swollen gums. Swollen gums are typically caused by bacteria that accumulate in the mouth, so oil pulling can help remove the bacteria and reduce inflammation.
The Bottom Line
Whether you use oil pulling for health purposes or beauty and aesthetics, it is an excellent way to naturally clean and whiten teeth.
Remember that it is an additional component of your oral care routine, not a replacement for the traditional methods of brushing and flossing. If you forgo these critical procedures, you may end up with more harmful bacteria in your mouth and the potential for more cavities despite your oil pulling efforts.