What Is Oil Pulling? A Complete Guide To Its Health Benefits
Info (Amala Earth)
May 04, 2022

What is oil pulling?

Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic practice that has been around since ancient times in India. In this, a tablespoon of oil is swished around in the mouth for around 10-20 minutes, after which, the oil is spat out. It is considered that this process removes toxins from the mouth and teeth and improves overall oral hygiene. This process also seems to reduce certain teeth ailments like cavities, gingivitis, etc, and helps in removing harmful bacteria from the mouth.

How to do oil pulling?

Oil pulling has a few easy steps. It is generally done early in the morning on an empty stomach. You can use any kind of high-quality household oil such as sunflower oil, sesame seed oil, coconut oil for this process. Take a tablespoon of oil and swish it around in the mouth and in between the teeth. Try to do this for at least 10-20 minutes. After that, spit out the oil into a waste bin or tissue paper. Do not swallow the oil, as it contains all the dirt and bacteria from the mouth. Try not to spit the oil into the sink as it can clog the pipes. If the jaw starts to hurt, then you can reduce the time to around 10 minutes.

The process of pulling the oil around the mouth changes the viscosity of the oil and turns it into a cloudy and watery substance. For kids above five years of age, a teaspoon of oil is enough. This process is not recommended for a kid less than five years of age as there is a chance they can aspirate on the oil. 

Oil pulling should be done before brushing. You can do this process a maximum of three times a day before a meal to increase the benefits. After spitting, you can clean your mouth with tap water and then continue with your regular brushing routine. Take care to avoid aspirating on the oil and do not swish the oil rigorously.

What are the benefits of oil pulling?

There are many benefits of oil pulling. Here are a few of them:

  • Oil pulling helps in removing bacteria from the mouth.
  • Our mouth contains hundreds of varieties of microorganisms, including bacteria. These bacteria are the main reason behind cavities, swollen gums, bad breath, etc. They feed on the food stuck between the teeth and cause damage to the teeth. Plaque on the teeth also harbours these bacteria.

    Oil pulling helps in reducing the disease-causing bacteria and promotes oral health. Several studies like this one have concluded that oil pulling reduces bacteria and plaque formation. 

  • Oil pulling helps in preventing cavities.
  • Cavities are caused due to tooth decay. The buildup of bacteria and food materials on the tooth leads to the decaying of the teeth. This decay can destroy the enamel and go down to the root of the tooth. Plaques formed on the teeth can also cause cavities. 

    Oil pulling can help in reducing the bacteria and plaque that cause tooth decay. Some studies like this have found that oil pulling can just as effectively remove certain strains of bacteria, like a regular mouthwash. But oil pulling uses regular oil, which is a much safer alternative than a mouthwash.

  • Oil pulling helps in managing bad breath.
  • Bad breath, or halitosis, is a much more common problem than we realise. There can be any number of reasons behind bad breath. Some of the most common reasons are poor oral hygiene, bacteria, and tongue coat. Oil pulling helps in removing the buildup on the tongue and improving oral hygiene. All this will ultimately reduce the bad breath. Even though further studies are necessary, oil pulling is still considered a safe alternative for bad breath caused by poor oral hygiene. 

  • Oil pulling prevents and reduces swollen gums.
  • Swollen gums, or gingivitis, can be painful, and they bleed. It happens because of the infection of the gums by bacteria and poor oral care. These bacteria are responsible for swelling, redness, and pain in the gums. Oil pulling helps in reducing the bacteria. It can also reduce the inflammation of gums and prevent swelling.

  • Oil pulling has no side effects.
  • Other methods of cleaning the mouth like using mouthwash generally contain ingredients that can cause side effects like burning of the mouth, dryness, etc. Oil pulling has no side effects. It is safe for people with certain conditions like dry mouth, mouth ulcers, inflammation in the mouth, etc. It is also safe for children above five years. Do not use any nut oil, if you have a nut allergy. 

  • Oil pulling exercises facial muscles.
  • Regularly pulling the oil in the mouth activates all the facial muscles. It helps in improving blood flow to the face, which can have many benefits. Some of them are improving the elasticity of the skin, defining the jawline, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, etc.

  • Oil pulling is a cheaper alternative to other dental cleaning processes.
  • It requires only a tablespoon of any kind of cooking or household oil. It is cheap, easily available, and safe compared with other dental cleaning products that are available in the market. 

  • Oil pulling is easy.
  • The process of oil pulling is simple and so even children can do it. It does not require any special care or multiple tedious steps. However, one needs to monitor children when they are new to the process. 

  • Other benefits
  • Ayurveda believes that the health of the mouth is related to the health of the various organs in the body. So, other than the above-mentioned benefits, it is believed that oil pulling can also help with improving gut health, digestion, hormonal imbalances, skin problems, etc.  


    Oil pulling is a very old technique that cleans the mouths and improves oral health. Doing it regularly has shown many benefits. Note that this process is not to be used in the place of regular brushing or flossing. It is an additional practice that is effective and safe. 

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