Oil pulling for (dental) health
Detoxification, fixing loose teeth, cavities & bleeding gums, tooth whitening and more
Oil pulling is a simple but apparently powerful DIY practice (also known from Ayurveda) reputedly drawing toxins from your oral mucosa & destroying mouth germs while stimulating bodily eliminations and increasing metabolism, thus reportedly leading to various (sometimes dramatic) healing benefits and enhanced health incl. (apparently) whitening of teeth, fixing/fastening loose teeth, eliminating bleeding gums, stopping tooth sensitivity, decay & abscesses, and preventing cavities.
General introduction, background and instructions how and when to do oil pulling
Oil pulling for oral detox, fixing loose teeth and cavities, strengthening teeth, stopping sensitivity, tooth decay & abscesses, eliminating bleeding gums
Oil pulling has been credited with a number of astounding oral health benefits since the times of Ayurveda, the oldest holistic healing system we know of. In Ayurveda, oil pulling is called "KAVALA GRAHAM", and the Charaka Samhita sutra sthana chapter states that “by oil pulling with til-taila (sesame oil), teeth are not affected with cavities and they become firm-rooted. Toothache and sensitivity to sour items will be healed and one will be able to chew the hardest items.”
According to oilpulling.org, Dr. Karach MD, the "author" of oil pulling, said: "The oil therapy heals tooth pain totally. Obvious results are re-fixing of loose teeth1 [which no dentist is able to do] the stopping of bleeding gums and the whitening of teeth." Apparently, oil pulling also removes dental infections, stops further tooth decay, and reduces/eliminates sensitivity of teeth. Quote: "[Oil pulling] is analgesic in relieving pain, antibiotic in eliminating infection, anabolic in fixing loose teeth, reduces sensitivity of teeth like sensodant and also ensures oral hygiene. OP makes this possible by its influence on the nervous system, endocrine and immune systems towards a state of balance..."
Other oral benefits reported include the cleaning of a tongue that had been coated with a white-yellowish film, the healing of aphtous ulcers and a salivary gland infection, no more tartar (calculus) forming, a growth in the parotid gland which developed after starting oil pulling (likely incipient beforehand) completely healed within six weeks in combination with an exclusively raw food diet.
Sample oil pulling dental benefits testimonials
"I have been oil pulling with sunflower oil for over three years on a regular basis and I am sold. It was upon the advice of my dentist that I tried it. My gums have much improved, since starting the routine redness, swellling and infections are gone, some of my teeth have become firmly reimplanted in their sockets! Additionally I've practically gotten rid of all tartar (calculus). Also no more sore throats and apart from a bit of sniffles at one point, hardly any colds worth mentioning! But that's no wonder considering that all toxins and bacteria are bound to the oil and spat out." (translated from the German by © Healing Teeth Naturally)
"....super-clean feeling in my mouth after oil pulling."..."best and quickest remedy I have found for sensitive teeth is oil pulling with extra virgin olive oil"... "swishing with coconut oil2 several times a week...my yellow canine teeth have whitened considerably (I have tried without success bleaching, baking soda and peroxide, etc.) [and] my sensitivity in my teeth has decreased dramatically."
"I have always had sensitive and really weak teeth [but after one month of oil pulling] no tingling feeling and just an overall healthy feel in my mouth", "oil pulling has ... reinforced ... loose molar", "At first, my breath stank but I stuck with it and [after six weeks of oil pulling] my breath is now fresh and my teeth are strong", "I had a brown discolored tooth and after 2 pulls the brown is gone. [Previously] I have had my teeth cleaned many times by a dentist and still had that brown tooth...".
Another person who had had numerous cavities as a child reported that she had been doing 20 minutes of oil pulling every morning for nearly two years and that at a dentist's visit, for the first time in nearly 40 years of life, she was told that nothing needed to be done, no cleaning or polishing or anything else. This person used one teaspoon of coconut oil plus three drops of an essential organic oil blend (containing cinnamon, peppermint, spearmint, clove, myrrh, manuka and almond oil). In addition, she brushed her teeth twice daily using a clay-based all-natural toothpaste with xylitol, essential oils and sea salt.
Last but not least, personally I find oil pulling helpful to dislodge stuck food particles from between my teeth (particularly those I wasn't even aware of and which vigorous water rinsing hadn't managed to budge!).
1. Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva
Researchers S Asokan, J Rathan, MS Muthu, Prabhu V Rathna, P Emmadi, Raghuraman, and Chamundeswari at the Meenakshi Ammal Dental College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, studied the "Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind study".
Particularly, the study aimed "to evaluate the effect of oil pulling with sesame oil on the count of Streptococcus mutans in plaque and saliva of children, using the Dentocult SM Strip mutans test, and to compare its efficacy with that of chlorhexidine mouthwash." (published in the Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry)
2. Effect of oil pulling on plaque-induced gingivitis: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind study
Researchers Sharath Asokan, Pamela Emmadi and Raghuraman Chamundeswari of the Meenakshi Ammal Dental College, Chennai, India, studied the effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis (published in the Indian Journal of Dental Research, this is a similar or identical study to number 1 above).
3. Effect of oil pulling therapy on dental caries (streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva) as well as plaque-induced gingivitis
Researchers A. Sharath, J. Jeevarathan, M.S. Muthu, V. Rathnaprabu, E. Pamela, R. Raghuraman and G.S. Chamundeswari at the Meenakshi Ammal Dental College & Hospital, Chennai, India, studied oil pulling with the objective of assessing "the efficacy of an Indian folk remedy, oil pulling therapy using Sesame oil (Idhayam oil) on oral health status". Randomized controlled triple blind clinical trials were performed evaluating the effect of oil pulling therapy on dental caries (streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva) as well as plaque-induced gingivitis.
4. Effect of oil-pulling on dental-caries-causing bacteria
Researchers T. Durai Anand, C. Pothiraj, R. M. Gopinath and B. Kayalvizhi of the PG Department of Microbiology, V. H. N. S. N. College, Virudhunagar- 626 001, India, studied the "Effect of oil-pulling on dental caries causing bacteria".
"The effect of oil-pulling on the reduction of total count of bacteria was determined. There was a remarkable reduction in the total count of bacteria. The process of oil-pulling reduced the susceptibility of a host to dental caries. The in-vitro antibacterial activity of sesame oil against dental caries causing bacteria was determined. Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus acidophilus were found to be moderately sensitive to the sesame oil."
5. Effect of Oil Pulling on Plaque & Gingivitis
Researchers HV Amith, Anil V Ankola, L Nagesh of the Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry, KLES Institute of Dental Sciences, Belgaum, Karnataka, India, studied the "Effect of Oil Pulling on Plaque and Gingivitis" (published in the Journal of Oral Health & Community Dentistry).
6. Effect of oil pulling on halitosis and microorganisms causing halitosis: A randomized controlled pilot trial
Published in the Journal of the Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry in 2011, this study compared the efficacy of oil pulling to that of chlorhexidine mouthwash. The researchers found that oil pulling therapy was equally effective as chlorhexidine for halitosis and the associated microorganisms. (A very impressive result considering the antimicrobial power of chlorhexidine.)
7. Mechanism of oil-pulling therapy - in vitro study
This study aimed to determine whether the claimed effects of oil-pulling therapy on oral health were just due to placebo.
8. Apparently, in an experiment conducted in 1992 at the Maharishi University of Management (then called Maharishi International University), in Fairfield, Iowa, students rinsing their mouths with sesame oil showed an 85% reduction in the bacteria which cause gingivitis after six weeks of twice daily rinsing.3
Oil pulling and toothache: after initially successfully trying salt water, beet green/spinach leaf/blackstrap molasses, a man told me that he "switched to oil pulling and had gotten more permanent results with that for my toothache as far as pain".
A similar experience of first using salt water and then oil pulling with sesame oil which helped against toothache reads, "I have a tooth that the dentist did a root canal on and left it without a cap - result it got chipped and finally crumbled leaving a major hole. I did not feel anything for months since the pulp was dead but 2 days back I started feeling searing pain. So much so that I was ready to run to a dentist and beg that it be pulled off. Then I went to your site and read about salt water rinse. Tried it and on day 1- the pain completely disappeared. Second day however when I tried it again as my tooth hurt, it worked for a minute but the pain was back even stronger. I kept rinsing and the pain kept getting worse. I finally took some sesame oil in my mouth and started to oil pull. OMG OMG!!! The pain has been gone for 2 days now. Every time I drink something hot or cold - it starts again but I oil pull with sesame oil and it disappears. Hope this helps readers find relief from the toothache monster."
Another person wrote that "[within 3 days of] doing this [oil pulling] practice the pain [from a loose painful tooth] was eliminated completely" and the tooth solidly set.
Oil pulling has provided help with pain from braces: "I had my braces tightened this morning. My teeth were killing me all day, then when I got home, I took a dessert spoonful of 'cold pressed, unrefined sesame oil' and oil pulled. It really helped and now my teeth don't hurt as much, so if you know anyone who has braces, tell them!"7
Oil pulling has afforded help with pain from temporo-mandibular joint (jaw joint) disease and fibromyalgia: "I did not think I would be able to do this for 15 minutes due to jaw pain but after 2 1/2 minutes my jaw pain left. The stiffness, pain and soreness in my body was gone before the 15 minutes was up. I have been suffering from fibromyalgia since 1991 and this is the only thing I have tried that gave me immediately relief."
Oil pulling helped remove large amounts of sore scar tissue in a person's mouth which had been a source of discomfort for over 30 years and where nothing else had provided relief: "I’ve been oil pulling with cold-pressed organic sunflower oil approximately 25 minutes for almost three years now... Since I started oil pulling, I’ve noticed and felt an incredible difference in my teeth, gums and general oral health. My mouth has completely regenerated... no more plaque, no more scar tissue, healthy gums and amazingly white and strong teeth." (This person has not been to the dentist for two years since.)
Oil pulling effects:
testing your saliva with pH test strips
Your saliva's pH is very important for your dental health, see Demineralization/Remineralization.
To see what effect if any oil pulling may have on my saliva pH, I once tested oil pulling by using pH test strips, measuring my saliva ph after getting up in the morning, after rinsing and cleaning my mouth with water, after oil pulling and after the final cleansing rinse. After oil pulling, my saliva went from pH 8 to 7 and then back to 8 again, i.e. first became more acidic and then alkaline again.
Here are my sample results:
- saliva pH after getting up, measured under tongue: c. 6.4
- saliva pH after cleaning mouth with water, measured under tongue: c. 8
- saliva mixed with sunflower oil pH after c. 15 min. of oil pulling: c. 7
- saliva pH after cleaning mouth of oil via water rinsing: c. 8
Vegetable oils apparently are very weak acids so it is unlikely that the dramatic lowering of pH from 8 to 7 was due to my mixing my saliva with oil but rather can be explained by acid toxins or food residues being drawn during oil pulling from the mouth, from between the teeth etc.
Oil pulling and amalgam fillings
According to a German naturopath, people who carry amalgam fillings shouldn't do oil pulling since such a practice would draw even more noxious substances from the fillings into the mouth. I enquired with oilpulling.org asking them to comment but they had no data on this subject.
On the other hand, thanks to site visitor JR I learned that there is at least one person who has mercury amalgams in every single tooth and who reports having only experienced benefits with oil pulling. Oil pulling or not, it is to be hoped that the amalgams won't catch up with him at some point.6
Personally having no amalgam fillings I use oil pulling every day, and considering the potential benefits, I suggest you try including oil pulling in your dental routine as well. In case you should feel any initial aversion, it's worth trying to overcome it... (remember - you are worth it ;-).
Oil pulling and implants (and other dental work)
Apparently, oil pulling can help with the healing process after dental implant surgery. According to a comment by an experienced user found on the internet, oil pulling is safe to do even with a mouth full of various dental restorations - from fillings and crowns to root canals and dental implants. Considering that the more dental work one has had done, the more places exist for bacteria to hide (and the greater the chances of dental toxicity), gentle oil pulling could be helpful in keeping the mouth and jaw clean.5
Oil pulling and damaged fillings or cracked teeth
I have not personally heard or experienced the following but wanted to pass on a warning I found on the internet maintaining that a number of people have reported pre-damaged teeth splitting while oil pulling and that they might wish to consult a dentist before starting the practice. Another one reported that after trying oil pulling a filling was loosened and all or part of the filling fell out.
Note however that if oil pulling alone is capable of dislodging a filling this may actually be a good thing since it points to a filling that's already loosened allowing bacterial ingress. Ill-fitting fillings are a major cause of secondary caries and eventual tooth destruction, see Drilling & Filling Teeth: an unwise choice?.
The late erudite father Thomas Häberle, an eminent but little known Swiss naturopath, used olive oil massages to great effect in a number of illnesses. He stressed that he reaped great successes using olive oil for diseases of the bones and head, writing that olive oil is able to penetrate even the hardest bones and bring healing where it is needed. For this reason it seems ideal to use for oil pulling.
Father Thomas Häberle has left us three small but information-packed books on natural healing two of which have been translated into English, Helping & Healing and Counselling & Curing. Luckily, they are available (and inexpensively at that) via Abebooks.4
One person actually reported that swishing with olive oil straightened his teeth! And a 57-year-old female who had been swishing with organic extra virgin olive oil for 15-20 minutes for six months not only experienced her toothache disappearing and her mouth feeling "dentist-clean" but also saw further amazing benefits: two teeth that had been injured when she was eight and had subsequently darkened were beginning to get lighter (after she had tried bleaching and veneering to no avail since the veneers had worn off again). Additionally her jawline benefitted, taking on a firmer contour8 (reported on Christmas 2014).
It's truly amazing that teeth that have started to darken (where the pulp typically is considered to be "dead") apparently can be revitalized by (olive) oil pulling.
Oil pulling and essential oils
I frequently add antibacterial essential oils such as peppermint, rosemary or tea tree oil to the oil I use for oil pulling, tastes great and likely does much good in terms of fighting harmful bacteria.
Oil pulling and dry mouth
If you suffer from dry mouth, in addition to hydrating yourself with water and if possible eliminating any root causes (such as certain medications), swirling oil in your mouth may help to eliminate this condition (compare Dry mouth [xerostomia]: on causes, remedies & treatments of inadequate natural production of saliva).
Oil pulling and toothbrushing
Judging by one person's report that toothbrushing after oil pulling led to increased tooth sensitivity within a week it would seem advisable to not brush one's teeth after doing oil pulling but if one wishes to brush, to do so beforehand. Conceivably, at least in some people, oil pulling will cause a temporary softening of the enamel.
Important additional advice to maximise oil pulling's dental health benefits
Since the oil only "pulls" between teeth and on the gum surfaces, I would always combine it with tongue cleaning to most effectively remove the streptococcus mutans "caries bacteria" which also reside on the tongue (more at Cleaning your tongue).
Interestingly, you may not need to clean your tongue for long since health writer Erika Herbst observes in her book "Die Heilkunst von Morgen" that coated tongues typically yield to oil (or water - see below) pulling over time.
1 Pulling with xylitol
Oil pulling in addition to its purported or observed general healing benefits, basically is a particularly thorough way of rinsing one's mouth. Did you know that you can also rinse your mouth with (special) sugar and help heal cavities and gum disease? This at least is the experience of a number of people who have tried it and found it highly beneficial. For this different type of "pulling" shown to be highly effective against tooth decay and to heal periodontitis, see Rinsing mouth and brushing teeth with xylitol sugar.
2 Pulling with plain water
Perhaps the best news: one can also rinse with pure water and reap similar benefits! For details see Water pulling as effective as oil pulling for teeth and gums? First trial study shows no statistically significant difference in oral bacteria and plaque reduction potential.
And if you use green tea or other herbs or substances with dental health benefits, you should do your teeth, gums and body an even greater favour (see the Dental Care & Oral Hygiene as well as Natural Remedies section for much herbal inspiration).
1 For a more complicated approach to fixing hopelessly "jiggly" teeth scheduled for extraction, see Saving loose teeth from extraction: Dr. Hulda Regehr Clark book excerpt.
2 Compare Another tooth-friendly oil? Virgin coconut oil.
3 The same university also saw the publication of a doctoral thesis involving sesame oil written by John William Salerno and titled "Selective growth inhibition of human colon adenocarcinoma and malignant melanoma cell lines by sesame oil in vitro."
4 Häberle’s books distill his experience as a naturopathic healer over several decades and are a real treasure trove of little known healing secrets (although widely read in the subject of natural healing, personally I had never come across most of what he shares). He also often used cabbage leaf packs but combined them with other simple measures to frequently reap spectacular successes. PS. If you buy Häberle’s books via the above Abebooks link, Healing Teeth Naturally will receive a commission of 5 - 6.5% (at no extra cost to you) which goes to support its humanitarian work. Recently I've also seen them offered on Amazon, see this site's Amazon affiliate links for an alternative way to support this site.
Incidentally, one source recommended avoiding olive oil for oil pulling saying its natural beta-carotene content might stain the teeth yellow if olive oil is frequently used. I don't know if this is a valid argument but the possible benefits seem to far outweigh this "risk".
Note: More recently I've also seen Haberle's books offered at Amazon. Similar to the above, if you buy Häberle’s books via any of the Amazon links listed under Support this site, you help support Healing Teeth Naturally's work since this site will receive a commission of 6.5 % (at no extra cost to you).
5 For reasons of health, Healing Teeth Naturally strongly opposes most all dental work, see the detailed coverage of the various procedures under Conventional.
6 For reasons why amalgam fillings can damage your health, see the Dental fillings section.
7 If you suffer pain from braces (indicating some kind of damage being done to teeth and/or tooth roots), you may wish to look at Potential risks of orthodontic treatment and Braces testimonial: massive loss of healthy teeth and jawbone after wearing dental retainers for 3+ years.
8 A somewhat similar "beauty" benefit can be expected from thorough chewing (which additionally is a basic prerequisite for dental health and healing).