In an attempt to color correct my teeth from an overindulgence of coffee and red wine, I’ve been engrossed in various aspects of dental regimens. Between talking to dentists and researching on my own, I understand there are 4 main components of good oral hygiene: Brushing twice daily for 2 minutes, flossing once a day, tongue scraping, and mouthwash—to minimize odor and clear bacteria.
For a couple months, I’ve been doing this religiously, and have seen a drastic improvement in discoloration and overall gum health. But in the nature of always wanting to improve, I’ve been looking up oil pulling. And by looking it up, I mean I saw it on TikTok and became fascinated with what it is.
What is oil pulling?
Oil pulling is a method that originated in Ayurvedic medicine. Essentially, you swish coconut oil (or any other oil) in your mouth, like mouthwash, and spit it out for better oral health. It’s not listed as a recommendation by the American Dental Association, but people believe it is beneficial in any teeth regimen. So what is it, how do you benefit, and how can you do it at home? Let’s find out.
What are the benefits?
The most notable benefit is its ability to break down plaque, the sometimes harsh layer of bacteria that sticks to the surface of the teeth. Without the consistency of plaque removal, you could get gingivitis and periodontal disease—a gum infection that can compromise the gums and jawline.
Of course, brushing your teeth is a great approach to plaque removal, but oil pulling is the chemical version of a breakdown in the bacteria. As the oil moves throughout the mouth, it works hard to destroy the layers of plaque in a gentle way. In fact, studies done in Nigeria and India prove that oil swishing works—even in as little as 10 days.
What’s more, as oil pulling decreases the bad bacteria in saliva, it is said to prevent cavities. Without bacteria in your mouth, you limit yourself from tooth decay and cavities. Not only that, but oil pulling can cure halitosis (bad breath), by breaking down the microorganisms that cause odor. Plus, coconut oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which is always a good thing for teeth.
Lastly, oil pulling neutralizes the pH in the mouth, preventing teeth from demineralizing. All you need to do is oil pull for 5 minutes a day. Though, keep in mind that oil pulling is a preventative approach—not an easy fix for all of your oral conditions. And please don’t think this can replace daily brushing habits. It is an addition, not the cure.
Besides, if you brush, floss, Waterpik, and mouthwash daily, you will probably be fine and see very little added benefits with oil pulling. But like always, it’s up to you.
Here’s our recommendations for top 5 toothpastes.