Coconut oil in a jar
Coconut oil in a jar

Photo by Dana Tentis from Pexels

Oil pulling is an ancient practice, originating from the Ayurvedic medicine, that consists of swishing oil in your mouth in order to remove bacteria and viruses and promote oral hygiene. There are multiple types of oils that can be used for pulling, but in this article, we will focus on how to do oil pulling with coconut oil. I have chosen coconut oil because it contains lauric acid (which provides it’s anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties), it is a great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substance, but also because I love its taste.

An Image Showing Oral Bacteria illustration

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What Happens in Your Mouth?

There are about 700 types of bacteria that can live in your mouth, and up to 350 types are present at any given time1)Composition and development of oral bacterial communities. They create a film on your teeth and gums, called plaque. Dental plaque begins forming on teeth 4-12 hours after brushing, but if you do not take steps to get rid

of it, it can get out of hand, and cause various problems. The bad bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel causing cavities. These bacteria can also cause the early stage of gum disease (gingivitis), contribute to bad breath and can make your teeth look dingy and yellow.

What Are the Benefits of Oil Pulling?

The main role of oil pulling it to cleanse the mouth. There are many beneficial things associated with oil pulling, especially coconut oil pulling, but unfortunately, there are no concluded scientific studies conducted on this topic 2)Oil pulling for maintaining oral hygiene – A review.

Its local benefits are:

  • kills harmful bacteria and fungi
  • helps reduce bad breath
  • may help prevent cavities
  • reduces inflammation and improved gum health
  • reduces plaque
  • some claim it whitens teeth (but I haven’t noticed this yet)

There are also lots of people claiming that it helps with acne regression, allergies,  asthma, and even migraine and diabetes prevention or that it helps strengthen gums and jaws and can even heal bleeding gums3)Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing, Effect of oil pulling in promoting oro dental hygiene: A systematic review of randomized clinical trials, Oil pulling: A traditional method on the edge of evidence.

The coconut oil contains lots of easily digestible, fat-soluble vitamins with significant beneficial properties:

  • Vitamin A is good for the immune system, reduces the risk of acne, supports bone health
  • Vitamin E supports the immune system, prevents inflammation, may prevent coronary heart disease, promotes eye health
  • Vitamin D plays a significant role in the regulation of calcium and maintenance of phosphorus levels in the blood
  • Vitamin K is good for blood clotting, bone metabolism and regulating blood calcium levels.

When and How to do Oil Pulling with Coconut Oil

It is best to do oil pulling in the morning, before drinking water, and you should wash your teeth right after. This is because during the night, bacteria multiply and also produce waste substances, so drinking water would cause you to swallow a lot of bad stuff along with it.

Oil pulling is a very simple process, but you will want to start slowly: the target is to swish for about 20 minutes, so it’s advisable to start with 5-10 minutes for a few days and slowly increase the duration.

There are only three simple steps you need to take:

  1. take 1 or 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in your mouth
  2. swish the oil around your mouth for 15-20 minutes, just like a mouth wash. Depending on the temperature the oil was kept at, you might have to chew it a bit until it becomes liquid. Try to relax while doing this, and be very gentle with the swishing action, in order to avoid facial muscles pain.
  3. spit out the oil in a glass or toilet (it will solidify quickly when in contact with cold objects, and might clog the sink drain).

15-20 minutes is quite some time, so it’s best to do this along with another activity. I like to do this while I shower in the morning, but you can try to do this while reading or during any other activities you find it comfortable.

Make sure you do not swallow the oil, as you will swallow all the bad things it cleaned from your teeth and gum.


Oil pulling with coconut oil is a simple natural method that may reduce your risk of bad breath, gum disease and cavities, and might also bring additional health benefits like teeth whitening, acne reduction, or jaw and gum strengthening. There aren’t enough solid studies to prove it’s benefits, but people have been doing this for thousands of years and have been noticing the effects.