Coconut oil has long been amongst the world’s favorite go-to condiment for a variety of purposes that range from cooking to hair care to skin care and more. But that just begs the question – when we’re so used to using this humble oil inside and outside the body, why then do we shy away from using it in that most crucial of buffer zones – our mouths?
We know what you’re thinking and correct us if it doesn’t go somewhat like this: Put Oil? In Mouth? What Even?!? Yuck!
And no, you wouldn’t be wrong to instinctively assume that. But what if we told you that using coconut oil to clean your mouth is a sure fire way of maintaining oral health and an ancient practice that has now been scientifically validated by leading researchers across the world? Hard to believe? Read on to know more!
What Is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is perhaps the most misleading term for a home remedy in recent times. A modern derivative of the ancient Ayurvedic practices of Gandush and Kaval , it involves cleansing the mouth with naturally obtained oils such as coconut, sesame and sunflower. This is done by holding the oil in the mouth (Gandush) and swishing it around in it (Kaval) for a set period of time.
In fact, this simple practice has been found to have a great many positive effects on the body right from keeping the mouth healthy to clearing sinuses to even preventing heart disease! Don’t get how all of that is connected though? Let’s see-
Why Should You Oil Pull?
Oral Health Snapshot
Your mouth forms the gateway to your body and as such comes in contact with many foreign substances that may or may not be good for your system. In fact, the condition of your teeth, tongue and gums reveal a great deal about your general health and thus, must be taken good care of. The key points that make up a “good oral health” checklist are-
- White teeth minus any stains
- Pink, firm gums as opposed to swollen, red gums
- Absence of any white/yellow coat on the tongue
- Healthy amounts of saliva secretion (no dry mouth)
- Absence of cavities in the teeth
- Absence of mouth odour
- No pale gums (pale pink gums might be indicative of anemia)
- Absence of lesions on the tongue or mouth (indicative of infections like oral thrush)
One can claim to be the proud owner of a healthy mouth only if all the above conditions are met. Lack of proper oral hygiene however can cause your mouth to come under attack from infections and foreign substances leading to conditions such as –
Turns out that just like you, the bacteria your mouth hosts has a sweet tooth for sugar and other fermented products, too. Excessive intake of these products coupled with bad oral practices lead to them being deposited on your teeth, causing bacterial attacks that lead to the formation of sticky, colourless deposits initially. As the bacterial colony grows however, they form a biofilm on the teeth that is better known as dental plaque.
Over time this dental plaque forms tartar that may be seen on the teeth and gumline as hard brown / yellow deposits. The development of a dental plaque may also destroy tooth material causing dental caries to form.
Bacterial infections and the subsequent plaques that they develop into do not affect teeth alone. In fact, they even affect the gums by causing them to get inflamed – a condition known as gingivitis. If not treated immediately, extreme cases of gingivitis may even develop into periodontitis, a condition that attacks gum and the bone lying underneath to cause swollen gums, bleeding and potential tooth loss, too.
Scary, right? To keep these dangers at bay and maintain good oral hygiene, dentists suggest brushing your teeth after meals, flossing regularly, using antibacterial mouthwashes etc. But here’s the catch, oil pulling with coconut oil can actually yield the same if not better results and being a commonly available, natural product has the added advantage of being organic and completely chemical-free, too.
NOTE: Coconut oil pulling is only an adjunct to your regular brushing regimen and cannot be considered an alternative to it. As with all natural remedies, we highly suggest that you consult your dentist before starting any such routine.
What Does Research Tell Us About Coconut Oil Pulling?
According to ongoing research on the practice of oil pulling, detoxification of the mouth with oil can help in the excretion of toxic heavy metals by the saliva . This practice also helps attack the protective layer of the cell wall that surrounds a micro-organism thus, killing it .
Besides, according to ancient Ayurvedic texts, the tongue is intrinsically connected to different parts of the body namely the heart, lungs, kidneys, small intestine etc and so, oil pulling has the added advantage of detoxifying the body and curing nearly 30 systemic diseases .
Oil pulling is also a great natural mouthwash for you and your family as it is free from toxins and much more effective at its job than your regular drugstore mouthwash. It kills bad odour by acting on the micro-organisms that cause the development of bad breath as was found in this study .
This technique is a great way to take care of your children’s oral hygiene needs as research has found that regular oil pulling can help reduce the count of micro-organisms like Streptococcus mutans and Candida albicans in their mouths  while also affecting aerobic microorganisms that cause gingivitis  in children.
Additionally, the high content of lauric acid as found in coconut oil helps keep adult gingivitis at bay, too .
Regular oil pulling can also reduce the risk of heart disease, kidney stones and premature labour as studies have found that people afflicted with gingivitis are at greater risk for these complications. Conversely, patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis were found to be at three times greater risk for developing gum disease which could be controlled with coconut oil pulling. Research into these claims is still ongoing.
Benefits Of Coconut Oil Pulling-
- Whitens Teeth
- Kills Malodour
- Fights Tooth Decay
- Prevents Dental Plaque
- Heals Gum Inflammation
- Strengthens Gums and Teeth
- Prevents Cavities
- Eliminates Heavy Metals
- Treats Sinus Blockages
- Improves Respiration
- Prevents Heart Disease
- Prevents Kidney Stones
- Prevents Teeth From Falling Out
- Prevents Oral Thrush
- Cannot be used as an alternative to your regular oral hygiene routine, use as an adjunct only.
- Some people might be sensitive to the use of coconut oil. People with allergies may consider oil pulling with alternatives like sesame or sunflower oil.
- Not approved by the American Dental Health Association currently.
How To Do A Coconut Oil Pull
You Will Need-
- 1 Tbsp Cold pressed coconut oil
- 1 Cup Warm Saline Water
- Paper bag
How To Do-
- Early in the morning and on an empty stomach, take in one tablespoon full of cold pressed coconut oil in the mouth. Take care to not swallow the same.
- Swish the oil around in the mouth for 20 minutes. This will allow the oil to break the films of plaque and start acting on the cell walls of the micro-organisms. Take care to not go beyond the prescribed 20 minutes however, as the body might start re-absorbing the toxins and bacteria being eliminated.
- As you swish the oil around in your mouth you will find that the oil gets thicker and almost milk-like in consistency. Fret not, this is an indication that the oil pulling technique is working!
- At the end of twenty minutes, spit the oil out into a paper bag or in the trash. Avoid spitting directly into the sink as the oil may clog your pipes. Swallowing the oil must be strictly avoided as well as the pulled oil contains toxins and bacteria that you don’t want to get inside your system.
- Rinse the mouth with warm saline water. At this point, finger brushing your teeth should be preferred over using a toothbrush and paste.
Note that, depending on personal choice oil pulling may be done once in two-three days to up to three times a day on an empty stomach. Visible results may be seen within two weeks of starting the routine.
How To Do A Coconut Oil Pull For My Kid-
This procedure is recommended for children above the age of five only. Avoid trying oil pulls on children below that age as the process might be contraindicative.
You Will Need-
- 1 Teaspoon (Tsp) Cold pressed coconut oil
- 1 Cup Warm Saline Water
- Paper bag
How To Do-
- Early in the morning and on an empty stomach, give your child a teaspoon of cold pressed coconut oil in the mouth. Instruct her to not swallow the oil, explain the reasons for the same.
- Ask her to swish the oil around in the mouth for 20 minutes. Step-by-step instructions or a demonstration on how to swish will greatly help, especially if this is your kid’s first try. The process of swishing will allow the oil to break the films of plaque and start acting on the cell walls of the micro-organisms. Take care that she does not hold the oil in her mouth beyond the prescribed 20 minutes however, as the body might start re-absorbing the toxins and bacteria being eliminated.
- If done right, the oil that she spits out will be oil thick and almost milk-like in consistency. If yes, this is an indication that the oil pulling technique was carried out successfully.
- At the end of the twenty minutes, make sure she spits the oil out into a paper bag or in the trash. Spitting directly into the sink must be avoided as the oil may clog your pipes. Take care to ensure that she does not swallow any oil, especially at this point, as the pulled oil contains toxins and bacteria that you don’t want to get inside her system.
- Ask her to rinse her mouth with warm saline water. At this point, you may ask her to finger brush her teeth or do it for her. Finger brushing should be preferred over using a toothbrush and paste.
Top 3 DIY Coconut Oil Pulls You Can Make At Home
That coconut oil pulls are effective has been established beyond doubt by now. But where’s the harm in making a good thing even better, right?
Essential oils have long been known for their anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain-relieving) and antimicrobial properties. Considering that, it just makes perfect sense to rev up your oil pull routine with a dash of essential oils added to the mixture.
Here are our go-to essential oils to try in this regard-
To use, just add 2-3 drops of the essential oil desired into 1 tablespoon of the cold pressed coconut oil and mix well. Once done, proceed to oil pull as usual.
Of course, you can always use other essential oils of your choice for the oil pull, too. But when doing that just make sure that the oils you use in this regard are safe to be consumed.
And with that, we come to an end of this topic. Try this technique at home and let us know if it worked for you or if you tried something different in the comments below!
Are there any other oils I can use for oil pulling instead of coconut?
Yes, you may safely use sesame oil or sunflower oil for your oil pulling routine, too.
I have sores/ulcers in my mouth. Can I still oil pull?
Yes! In fact, oil pulling is a great go-to option for when you cannot brush owing to such sores and ulcers.
Risks And Side Effects Of Oil Pulling
While nothing major, the detoxifying nature of oil pulling may at times lead to symptoms such as
- Excessive dryness of the mouth
- Light headedness
- Stomach cramps
- Loss of appetite, and
- Stiffness in the jaw – due to continuously swishing the oil around for 20 minutes
- Lipid pneumonia – due to inhaling the vapours of the oil. Must be strictly avoided.
Never fail to consult a doctor in case of emergencies.
Table of Contents