Monday, October 14, 2013

oil pulling for dental health

My mom first told me about this “swishing your mouth with olive oil” thing and I responded with skepticism. Why get your mouth all slimy and icky when there’s fluoride toothpaste and plant oil mouthwashes? No thank you.

Then I read an interview where someone mentioned oil pulling as her daily morning routine. So I looked into it.


Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique used to improve oral hygiene. It’s actually called kavala grah. My quick look into PubMed found most research is from Indian schools. In one, oil pulling was shown to significantly improve fresh breath (halitosis).

You wake up in the morning, put 1 tsp of cold-pressed plant oil into your mouth, swish it around for twenty minutes, spit it out. Follow with salt water gargle and tooth-brushing. The mixture turns milky and frothy, presumably from all the toxins that are pulled out.

The closest thing I could find to a dental source was this: from this article by Lory Laughter in Registered Dental Hygienist Magazine. Laughter talks about the lack of conversation about oil pulling in the dental community- perhaps because we already have oral hygiene products that’s been proven to work.


In this book by Dr. Bruce Fife, she claims the following conditions can improve with oil pulling:

Acne, allergies, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, colitis, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, hypertension, insomnia, PMS…

Some of these are systemic conditions- it sounds like oil pulling is a “panacea for all ills”. There’s really good customer reviews both about the book and about the therapy. I am intrigued!

I am just surprised that no work has been done to show that oil pulling works (if so, exactly how?) or doesn’t. I might just try it out myself… Just a spoonful of olive oil makes the bacteria go down.

Would you try oil pulling?


  1. Hello! I work in a dental office and read a bunch of dental blogs including yours. I recently saw a lot of mentions of oil pulling in my news feed and started scouring the web for more factual info. I couldn't find a whole lot of scholarly info on it but this is the best breakdown I saw of the general idea and what it may or may not do:

    Hope it helps/interests!

    1. Wow, that was really thorough and interesting. Thank you for that! I guess oil pulling can be another way to get some healthy plant fats in your diet but so far, no affirmative studies yet. Someone should do this! :)

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