Oil Pulling for Oral Health: The Benefits, Problems, and a Better Alternative

Oil Pulling for Oral Health: The Benefits, Problems, and a Better Alternative

Oil pulling has become a popular practice among those in the natural health community. However, is it beneficial or is it some fad? Science suggests that it does have benefits for the mouth and gums; however, it has some drawbacks, and there is an easier and better alternative.

Oil pulling has become a popular practice among those in the natural health community. However, is it beneficial or is it some fad? Science suggests that it does have benefits for the mouth and gums; however, it has some drawbacks, and there is an easier and better alternative.

Woman looking at the camera holding a halved coconut with her cheeks puffed out like they are full of coconut oil
What is Oil Pulling?

The act of oil pulling might sound like some strange way of mining petroleum, but some crunchy environmentalists would take offense to that. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic method of tooth and oral care that has been used by native Indians for thousands of years claiming that it helps prevent tooth decay, bad breath, bleeding gums, dry throat, and cracked lips, and that it also strengthens the teeth and gums.

It is recommended to do your oil pulling routine first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and after brushing your teeth. You take a tablespoon of oil and put it in your mouth. Let it melt and swish the oil vigorously through your teeth, like mouthwash, for 15–20 minutes, or until it turns white. Don’t swallow the oil at the end, and make sure you spit it into the trash, not down the sink. Then rinse your mouth well to finish the routine. Some sources even recommend waiting up to an hour before eating or drinking.

The Benefits

A close up of a woman's mouth smiling with a verticle dividing line down the middle of her mouth. On the left her teeth are yellowish and on the right her teeth are white.

Proponents of oil pulling claim that it pulls toxins and bacteria from your body, (hence the name “oil pulling”). However, there appears to be no evidence for this claim. Detoxing or removing toxins seems to always be the go-to claim to explain any perceived benefit.

According to recent research, the documented benefits are its ability to remove bacteria and plaque from the mouth! Two studies done, one in kids and the other in adults, found that oil pulling with coconut oil significantly reduced the amount of S. mutans bacteria (the bacteria that causes cavities) in the mouth. [1], [2] One of the studies compared coconut oil pulling to chlorhexidine, an antibiotic used in mouthwashes. They found that the oil pulling was as effective as chlorhexidine!

Two other studies found that oil pulling significantly reduces plaque on the teeth. [2], [3]

Oil pulling was also found to reduce bad breath, known as halitosis. [4]

Reducing plaque and bacteria is the single most important thing you can do to benefit your oral health. Any plaque not removed from your teeth can cause a buildup that will turn into tartar and eventually cause bad breath, gum diseases (like, gingivitis, periodontitis, gum recession, and exposed dentin) as well as tooth decay, and cavities. If left untreated, these issues can lead to tooth extractions, dentures, and even more significant health problems including heart disease.

How it works

Oil pulling works through the action of the enzymes in your saliva that break down the fats (known as lauric acid triglycerides) in the coconut oil. When the triglycerides combine with enzymes in your mouth, they are gradually broken down into lauric acid monoglycerides, also known as monolaurin. Monolaurin has the plaque-reducing and bacteria-killing benefits of oil pulling. However, this process takes time to work, as the enzymes do their thing.

A diagram of a lauric acid triglyceride on the left. An arrow with lingual lipase enzyme on top pointing to the right. On the right is shown monolaurin with two lauric acid molecules floating away.

The Drawbacks

A woman holding her mouth as if she had bad breath

 Oil pulling, despite these great benefits, has some drawbacks.

  • It is very inconvenient. You have to keep a jar of coconut oil by your sink, spoons, and plan ahead so that you have time to oil pull and wait the full hour before eating.
  • It is time-consuming. The recommended time to swish the coconut oil is up to 20 minutes! You have to do it long enough to make sure that the enzymes in your mouth do their work. Who has 20, or even 40, extra minutes (if you do it twice per day) to spend on their oral health?
  • You still have to brush your teeth. Oil pulling won’t take the place of a tooth cleaning. You still have to brush your teeth which adds two more minutes to your oral health routine.
  • It can clog your sink. You can’t spit the coconut oil into your sink because the oil can get stuck in your sink, turn into scum, and clog your pipes. You have to spit it into the garbage.
  • It can smell gross! After doing the oil pulling, the waste oil develops a nasty smell which can make your bathroom stink.
  • It will make your jaws sore. Swishing coconut oil takes a lot of work and it can make your jaw muscles sore.
  • It can make a mess. If you accidentally drool out some of that oil while swishing, it can make a mess on your clothes.
  • You might not be able to do it as often as you need to. Removing plaque from your teeth is one of the most important things that you can do to take care of your oral health. If you don’t remove plaque from your teeth every day it can build up and harden into calculus/tartar. It can also lead to bad breath because plaque harbors bacteria that can create smelly chemical waste.

The Alternative

There is great news! There is an alternative to oil pulling that is not only easier, but also much more effective! Instead of relying on your salivary enzymes to create the monolaurin, you can brush your teeth with a tooth-cleaning product that already contains monolaurin! Introducing, The Honest Tooth!

The Honest Tooth is a tooth powder that is an alternative to toothpaste and oil pulling! It contains monolaurin as its main active component that cleans the teeth just like oil pulling, but even better!

The Benefits of The Honest Tooth

When you brush with The Honest Tooth…

  • It doesn’t take 20 minutes! You don’t have to swish it in your mouth for 20 minutes to get the tooth-cleaning benefits! You just brush your teeth for the standard recommended time, 2 minutes, spit, and rinse, with no restrictions on what and when you can eat or drink. That’s all!
  • No need to keep a large jar of coconut oil in the bathroom! The Honest Tooth comes in a small, beautiful blue 4-oz jar to keep on your counter or in your drawer.
  • You can just spit it into the sink! The Honest Tooth doesn’t contain any fatty oil so it won’t leave any residue in your pipes!
  • It smells great, and leaves your mouth feeling fresh! The Honest Tooth contains essential oils like peppermint, wintergreen, cinnamon, and clove that leave your mouth with a fresh, minty taste and will make your breath smell great!
  • You won’t get a sore jaw! Since you don’t have to swish for 20 minutes, there is no worry about getting a sore jaw.
  • It won’t leave a mess. If you accidentally get The Honest Tooth on your clothes, it easily brushes off or washes out!
  • You can easily brush your teeth every day! Brushing your teeth with The Honest Tooth is as easy as brushing your teeth with toothpaste. Simple and easy to do twice a day!

Purchase your bottle of The Honest Tooth by clicking here


► References
  1. F. C. Peedikayil, V. Remy, S. John, T. P. Chandru, P. Sreenivasan, and G. A. Bijapur, “Comparison of antibacterial efficacy of coconut oil and chlorhexidine on Streptococcus mutans: An in vivo study,” J. Int. Soc. Prev. Community Dent., vol. 6, no. 5, pp. 447–452, 2016, doi: 10.4103/2231-0762.192934.
  2. M. Kaushik, P. Reddy, R. Sharma, P. Udameshi, N. Mehra, and A. Marwaha, “The Effect of Coconut Oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans Count in Saliva in Comparison with Chlorhexidine Mouthwash,” J. Contemp. Dent. Pract., vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 38–41, Jan. 2016, doi: 10.5005/jp-journals-10024-1800.
  3. F. Ripari, F. Filippone, G. Zumbo, F. Covello, F. Zara, and I. Vozza, “The Role of Coconut Oil in Treating Patients Affected by Plaque-Induced Gingivitis: A Pilot Study,” Eur. J. Dent., vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 558–565, Oct. 2020, doi: 10.1055/s-0040-1714194.
  4. S. Asokan, R. S. Kumar, P. Emmadi, R. Raghuraman, and N. Sivakumar, “Effect of oil pulling on halitosis and microorganisms causing halitosis: a randomized controlled pilot trial,” J. Indian Soc. Pedod. Prev. Dent., vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 90–94, 2011, doi: 10.4103/0970-4388.84678.


The Honest Tooth — Tooth Cleaning Powder

Regular price $31.99
Regular price $34.99 Sale price $31.99
Unit price  per 
View product

Leave a comment