As the name suggests, the practice involves using about a tablespoon of oil – typically sesame or coconut, preferably organic – as a mouthwash. The oil is swished and “pulled” through the mouth for upwards of 20 minutes per session before being spit out into the trash. This ancient Hindu Ayurvedic medicine remedy is said to have a laundry list of health benefits, among which are common dental health concerns: preventing tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath as well as whitening teeth.
While there are numerous articles with claims and personal stories supporting the practice of oil pulling, there is little scientific evidence to support these assertions. There is, however, significant evidence that a preventive oral care routine including brushing teeth for about two minutes twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily and visiting a dentist regularly can prevent dental disease.
There is likely little harm in trying oil pulling, other than possible discomfort from the lengthy swishing process. If you do decide to try this or any other alternative medicine or natural remedy, we encourage you to consider it a complement to a proven preventive dental care routine. You may also want to check with your physician or dentist to make sure that alternative practices will not interfere with any medications or affect other problems that you may have.