Oil Pulling: Good or Bad for Your Teeth?

pouring oil onto spoon

Some health trends that have been around for centuries come back into the popular culture as “miracle cures.” Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic practice developed more than 3000 years ago. However, it was brought back into popularity in India in the 1990s as an alternative medicine.

Oil pulling is the act of taking one tablespoon of an oil and swishing it around in your mouth for an extended amount of time before spitting it into the trash. Though a few studies have been done, none have sufficiently proven that oil pulling is better than using an approved mouth rinse. Still, there are many advantages and disadvantages to the practice.

Advantages to Oil Pulling

  • Coconut, sesame, and sunflower oil have antibacterial properties shown to help cleanse the mouth.
  • Using sesame oil helps to moisturize the gums and relieve dry mouth.
  • Because oil pulling is typically done for longer periods of time than mouthwash, the oil is thought to help remove more particles from gaps between the teeth.
  • Though it hasn’t been proven, some believe that the oil forms a layer that helps prevent against plaque buildup.

Disadvantages of Oil Pulling

  • Oil pulling cannot replace any part of a regular dental routine including brushing, flossing, and attending regular dental check-ups.
  • Oil pulling is more time-consuming than using a mouthwash.
  • While it may protect against plaque buildup, it does not remove plaque.
  • People who are inexperienced at oil pulling can strain their jaws or get an upset stomach due to accidental swallowing. It’s best to use a small amount of oil and swish for less time when starting an oil pulling regimen.
  • People with sensitive skin could see a reaction to certain oils if any were to leak out of their mouth.
  • According to the ADA, “oil pulling is not recommended as a supplementary oral hygiene practice.”

While oil pulling may not pose any serious threats to the health of your teeth, it’s best to check with your dentist to see if it’s right for you. For an expert opinion on oil pulling, call and schedule an appointment with Creighton Gallagher, DDS at Overland Park Family Dental. Dr. Gallagher can help you decide if this is a trend worth trying.