Oil Pulling – Studies of effectiveness inconclusive

It was recently brought to my attention that there is a trendy folk remedy known as “oil pulling” gaining attention and popularity. The technique involves holding or swishing oil in the mouth and its roots can be traced back to Ayurvedic health practices.

Limited Benefits from Oil Pulling

Oil PullingThis has received little to no attention among dental practitioners and limited research has been conducted. One of the only oral health studies conducted demonstrated that sesame oil did reduce the levels of oral bacteria however this was not as effective as the commonly used antiseptic mouthwash Chlorhexidine (1). It is also worth noting that this study was limited to a small sample size of 20 participants and therefore of limited reliability. It would appear as though oil pulling is likely no more than a fad with few or no actual benefits and potential negative health implications (2).

Brushing and Flossing are the Best Courses of Action

Ultimately, the standard practices of manual removal of disease-causing microorganisms with floss and tooth-brushing as well as adjunctive use of a recommended mouth rinse has been clearly demonstrated as a highly effective means of cleaning teeth and minimizing the incidence of tooth decay and gum disease with very little effort (6-10 minutes per day when done correctly).


1: http://www.ijdr.in/article.asp?issn=0970-9290;year=2009;volume=20;issue=1;spage=47;epage=51;aulast=Asokan

2: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/swishing-with-oil-for-oral-health-not-recommended/284490/

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