Gentle and comprehensive dentistry


I ran across this old ad recently and it seems that oiling teeth, or “oil pulling” as it’s referred to these days, has suddenly become a hot topic. I vaguely remember hearing about oil pulling, but never really thought much about it. Yet when you Google it, you find numerous blogs and articles, although I didn’t run across any from the scientific community.


Teeth oiling, as this picture indicates, is not a new concept. Actually it long predates this image. Oil pulling is an ancient traditional remedy that has been practiced for centuries in India and southern Asia as a holistic Ayurvedic technique.

Different oils, including sesame, olive, sunflower and coconut have been used. Many ‘oil pullers” claim that coconut oil is best because 50% of the fat in it has lauric acid, which is "well known" for its antimicrobial action.

The process is really quite simple: Several teaspoons to one tablespoon of the oil are swished in the mouth for approximately 20 minutes. “Pulling" the oil through the teeth and oral cavity, is supposed to remove toxins from the saliva as well as harmful bacteria in the mouth.

Other reported multiple oral health benefits of oil pulling, include:

• Teeth whitening

• Overall strengthening of the teeth, gums, and jaws

• Prevention of caries, gingivitis, bad breath, and dryness of the lips, mouth, and throat

• Reducing hypersensitivity

So, with all the information available throughout the media, what do I tell my patients about oil pulling?

First, and most importantly, not enough science has addressed the safety and value of oil pulling.

We do, however, have ample science to prove that routine brushing, flossing and using an antiseptic mouthwash improves oral health.

So, why pull when you can brush?

For additional whitening there are a number of treatments I can recommend. In fact, the next post will be on whitening. Be sure to look for it.