Ultimate Guide to Master Oil Pulling: Techniques, Effects, Benefits, & Tips - GuruNanda

What is Oil Pulling For Teeth & Gums?

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Oil pulling is a traditional wellness practice that benefits not only oral health but also overall well-being. Oral health is closely linked to general health, with recent studies highlighting the significant impact of oral conditions on the body​​. This connection is due to shared risk factors between systemic and oral diseases​​. [1][2]

Our mouths serve as entry points for pathogens that can affect systemic health. A strong immune system usually defends against these harmful microorganisms, but compromised oral barriers can lead to systemic circulation of these pathogens​​. Poor oral hygiene increases harmful microbes in oral biofilms, making it essential to manage them through proper oral care​​. [3]

This growing awareness has led to an interest in alternative medicinal treatments like Ayurveda. Oil pulling, a key component of Ayurvedic practice, plays a crucial role in enhancing both oral and overall health.

What is Oil Pulling & How Does It Work?

Oil pulling, a traditional technique rooted in Ayurvedic holistic medicine, dates back approximately 3,000 to 5,000 years, as detailed in a research review. Oil pulling is a simple practice where you swish natural oils like coconut, sesame, or sunflower in your mouth for 2 to 10 minutes. It not only brightens your smile and freshens your breath but also supports healthy gums and prevents dry mouth. This practice has been used for centuries in India to treat various oral health issues and is gaining popularity as a natural alternative to modern oral hygiene products​​. [4][5]

The exact mechanisms of oil pulling are not fully understood, but it is believed to clean teeth and gums and reduce bacterial adhesion. Oils like coconut oil, which contains lauric acid, interact with saliva to create a soap-like substance through saponification. This process produces antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, breaking down bacterial membranes and neutralizing oral pathogens. The swishing action also disrupts biofilms and forms a protective coating on teeth and gums, preventing plaque and bacteria from sticking. [6][7]

Advantages Of Oil Pulling

The following are the benefits of oil pulling:

May Help In Oral Bacteria Reduction

Oil pulling significantly reduces harmful bacteria like Streptococcus mutans, which are known for causing tooth decay. Studies have shown that adolescents engaging in oil pulling with sesame oil for 15 days exhibited a notable decrease in these harmful bacteria. [8][9]

May Help In Enhancing Gum Health

Regular practice of oil pulling reduces plaque accumulation and symptoms of gingivitis. It helps in lowering inflammation and bleeding of gums. A study involving 60 adolescents with gingivitis found that oil pulling with coconut oil improves gum health, as evidenced by reduced plaque. [7][10][11]

May Support Detoxification

Oil pulling stimulates salivary enzymes that absorb toxins from the blood, aiding in body detoxification. This effect reduces the bacteria in the gums and mouth, contributing to overall health improvement. Research from NCBI highlights the detoxification benefits of oil pulling. [5]

May Enhance Overall Health

Maintaining oral hygiene is vital for overall well-being, as poor oral health may lead to serious conditions like cardiac inflammations. Studies link oral hygiene to the risk of bacteremia and infective endocarditis. Oil pulling may affect oral and possibly overall health. Further research is needed to explore the connection between heart and periodontal diseases, as per a study in Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine. [12][13]

May Promote Fresher Breath

Oil pulling effectively eliminates halitosis, primarily caused by bacterial buildup. Research shows that oil pulling can be as effective as chlorhexidine gluconate in eliminating these bacteria. GuruNanda’s product-specific study, conducted with GuruNanda Oil Pulling Rinse, demonstrated the significant impact of oil pulling on improving breath freshness. [14]

May Help In Cavity Prevention

Research studies have suggested that oil pulling may play a role in preventing cavities by reducing plaque and bacterial accumulation on tooth surfaces. This effect helps protect tooth enamel and potentially prevents decay, as observed in studies indicating a decrease in oral bacterial count after oil pulling. [15]

Teeth Whitening

Oil pulling is not a replacement for professional dental treatments, but it is believed to contribute to whiter teeth by removing surface stains and enhancing oral hygiene. Additionally, there have been studies conducted on products like GuruNanda Pulling Oils that show teeth-whitening benefits.

How To Oil Pull?

  1. Start with 15 ml (1 teaspoon) of Pulling Oil in your mouth.
  2. For beginners, swish the oil for 2 minutes. Gradually increase to 20 minutes as you get used to it.
  3. Spit the oil into the trash to avoid plumbing issues.
  4. Brush your teeth thoroughly after oil pulling.
  5. Use a tongue cleaner and dental floss. Rinse your mouth to wash away impurities.

Best Oil For Oil Pulling

The choice of oil for oil pulling often depends on personal preference and the specific properties of the oil. Traditionally, sesame oil has been widely used due to its long history in Ayurvedic practices. However, in recent years, coconut oil has gained significant popularity. 

Oil pulling with coconut oil is often chosen due to its pleasant taste, antimicrobial properties, and thicker consistency that many find comfortable in the mouth. Sunflower oil is another commonly chosen option, known for its gentle flavor and lighter consistency, making it an attractive choice for individuals who seek a milder oil experience. Additionally, it contains Vitamin E, which is known for its antioxidant properties. Olive oil, with its rich nutritional profile, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties, offers a unique taste and health benefits, making it a suitable alternative for oil pulling, alongside coconut and sunflower oils, each providing distinct qualities to suit individual preferences. [7][16]

Ultimately, the best oil for oil pulling is one that you're comfortable using regularly and doesn't cause any allergic reactions or discomfort. Consistency in the practice, regardless of the oil type, is key to experiencing the potential benefits of oil pulling.

Understanding the Safety and Potential Side Effects of Oil Pulling

Oil pulling, involving swishing oils like coconut or sesame in the mouth, is generally safe for daily use. However, it's important not to swallow the oil, as it can cause digestive issues like an upset stomach or diarrhea. Always dispose of the used oil in the trash and brush your teeth afterward to remove any residue.

Newcomers might experience nausea or vomiting from the sensation of oil in the mouth. The jaw movements required can also lead to muscle fatigue, and the oil's texture might cause headaches for some. Extra caution is advised after oral surgeries, such as root canals or extractions, due to the sensitivity of healing tissues. Consult a dental professional before starting oil pulling post-surgery.

Most studies on oil pulling involve teenagers and adults. There are no specific safety guidelines for children under 12, so adult supervision is recommended to prevent accidental ingestion. For those with allergies, start with a small amount of oil to test for reactions. Always consult healthcare professionals for personalized advice if any adverse effects occur.


Oil pulling can be a beneficial addition to your oral hygiene routine, potentially reducing harmful bacteria, improving gum health, supporting detoxification, and enhancing breath freshness. To practice oil pulling, swish 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of oil in your mouth for up to 20 minutes, then spit it out and brush your teeth. This practice is generally safe, but start slowly and be aware of potential side effects like nausea or muscle fatigue. It's important not to swallow the oil and to consult a healthcare professional if you have specific health concerns. Consistency and choosing the right oil are key to maximizing benefits.

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How often can you oil pull?

Practicing oil pulling daily, especially in the morning on an empty stomach, is common and recommended. Consistency is key for noticeable results, but individual preferences and tolerances may vary.

Can oil pulling reverse tooth decay?

Oil pulling is considered a preventive measure and its effectiveness can depend on the stage of tooth decay. In the demineralization stage, oil pulling may have potential benefits. However, it's important to note that there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that oil pulling can reverse tooth decay. It is primarily used to improve oral hygiene and should not be seen as a replacement for conventional dental treatments.

How long should you oil pull?

The recommended duration for oil pulling typically ranges from 2 to 10 minutes per session. While longer durations, such as 10 minutes, are believed to increase efficacy, comfort levels can vary from person to person. Additionally, with modern adaptations of oils that include vitamins and essential oils, a 10-minute session may offer benefits equivalent to a longer duration, such as 20 minutes.

Can you do oil pulling at night?

While traditionally done in the morning, oil pulling can be performed at night. The essential factor is doing it on an empty stomach for the best results.

How long does it take for oil pulling to work?

The timeline for noticeable benefits from oil pulling can vary. Some people may observe improvements in oral health within a few weeks, while others might take longer.

Can you eat after oil pulling?

Yes, you can eat after oil pulling. However, for best results, complete the full oral regimen, which includes oil pulling, tongue scraping, brushing, flossing, and rinsing, before consuming food. This comprehensive approach can be beneficial for your oral hygiene and overall health.

Is it safe to swallow coconut oil?

Although ingesting small quantities of coconut oil is typically harmless, it is advised against consuming the oil utilized for oil pulling, as it may contain contaminants such as bacteria, and accumulated plaque and debris. Swallowing large amounts of oil can lead to stomach issues and digestive discomfort. It's best to spit out the oil into the trash and rinse your mouth thoroughly after oil pulling to ensure you don't ingest it.

Does oil pulling help bad breath?

Oil pulling may help reduce bad breath by decreasing the bacterial load in the mouth, though it's not a substitute for regular oral hygiene practices. GuruNanda Pulling Oils are certified to reduce and prevent malodor effectively [18].

Is oil pulling effective?

Some studies suggest that oil pulling can be effective in improving oral hygiene, but it should be viewed as a supplement to, not a replacement for, traditional oral care methods. There is some research, along with many testimonies from consistent users, that suggests oil pulling can be effective when used as an adjunct to your regular oral care routine.

Should you oil pull every day?

Daily oil pulling is commonly practiced and considered safe, but as with any regimen, individual responses can vary.

What does coconut oil pulling do?

Coconut oil pulling is believed to help remove oral bacteria, potentially improving dental health and hygiene. This is thought to occur through the disruption of bacterial biofilms.

Is oil pulling safe for teeth?

Oil pulling is generally safe for teeth and can be a beneficial addition to oral hygiene routines.

Can you oil pull with vegetable oil?

While technically you can use vegetable oil for oil pulling, it is not advisable or commonly recommended, as it may not provide similar benefits as traditional oils like coconut or sesame.

Should you rinse after oil pulling?

It is recommended to rinse your mouth with water after oil pulling to remove any residual oil. Additionally, brushing your teeth after rinsing is advisable for comprehensive oral hygiene.

Where to spit oil after oil pulling?

Dispose of the used oil in a trash can instead of spitting it into the sink to avoid plumbing issues.

What is the best time to oil pull?

The morning, before eating or drinking, is considered the best time for oil pulling, as it may be more effective on an empty stomach. This is because your body is in a fasting/regenerative state in the morning, allowing for maximum benefits from the practice.

What does oil pulling actually do?

Oil pulling, through the action of swishing oil in your mouth, is believed to disturb the biofilms, which are collections of layers of bacteria on your teeth and gums. This disruption can potentially help improve gum health by removing harmful bacteria and targeting the bacteria that cause bad breath. Additionally, oil pulling has the potential to improve your oral microbiome by promoting a balance of good bacteria and reducing harmful bacteria in your mouth.

Do dentists recommend oil pulling?

Many dentists recommend oil pulling as a supplementary practice to complement your oral hygiene regimen.

Should I brush my teeth after oil pulling?

Brushing teeth after oil pulling is advised to ensure thorough cleaning and removal of any remaining oil residues.

Is Oil Pulling a substitute for brushing and flossing?

No, oil pulling is not a replacement for brushing and flossing. Instead, it can be used in addition to your regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing routine to enhance your oral hygiene.

Do I need to wait to eat or drink after practicing Oil Pulling?

There's no need for a waiting period to eat or drink after oil pulling. However, rinsing your mouth is recommended before you do so.

Why does the oil become milky after spitting it out?

The oil turns milky due to the emulsification process and mixing with saliva, indicating the trapping of bacteria and toxins.

Is there a specific regimen I can follow every morning?

A typical morning regimen can include oil pulling followed by brushing, tongue scraping, flossing, and, rinsing mouth for optimal oral and overall health.

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Written by Anish Nanda M.D.