Coconut oil gum disease

Oil pulling is a well-known natural remedy that can help with different oral problems. It’s claimed to have several benefits for your mouth and overall health.

Coconut oil pulling or oil swishing therapy is a traditional procedure where you rinse the oil in your mouth with the aim of preventing oral diseases. It is recommended to do this in the morning on an empty stomach, followed by tooth brushing.

Different oils can be used as an alternative to coconut oil, including olive, mustard, sunflower, and groundnut oil, as well as mango and gooseberry extracts. These oils do not cause any staining as seen with chlorhexidine mouthwashes, have no after taste or allergic reactions, and are readily available.

Coconut oil gum disease

Benefits of Oil Pulling Therapy

One of the most noteworthy benefits of oil pulling therapy lies in its straightforwardness. This method offers an economical and easily accessible approach to enhancing and maintaining optimal oral health, requiring nothing more than the use of oil for swishing.

What’s particularly appealing is that there’s no need for stringent precautions or complex protocols to follow. In comparison to various detoxification techniques, oil pulling stands out for its effortless and uncomplicated nature.

When you practice oil pulling, you might reduce your chances of having dental cavities, bleeding gums, dry mouth, and cracked lips. It’s like a workout for your teeth, gums, and jaws to keep them healthy. Plus, it can freshen your breath and make your taste buds happy.

Oil pulling can be especially helpful for people who find it hard to brush their teeth, like when they have mouth sores, or if they’re prone to gagging, like in asthma or severe coughs.

In fact, a survey showed that around 89% of people who tried oil pulling reported feeling better, while only 11% didn’t see any improvement.

Oil Pulling Therapy Procedure

Here’s How Oil Pulling Works

  • In oil pulling, you take a teaspoonful of any oil (like coconut, sunflower, sesame, etc.) and swish it around your mouth for about 15-20 minutes before breakfast.
  • The oil gets “pulled” around your mouth, and if you do it right, it becomes milky and thinner.
  • Then, you spit it out, rinse your mouth with warm saltwater or tap water, and brush your teeth.

Composition of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is made up of special fats called medium-chain fatty acids (MCFs). Most other oils have different kinds of fats, but coconut oil’s fats are pretty unique. These include:

  • Saturated fats like lauric acid, myristic acid, and palmitic acid
  • Monounsaturated fats like oleic acid
  • Polyunsaturated fats like linoleic acid

These MCFs are similar to thse found in mother’s milk, and have similar benefits. Coconut oil also has antioxidants that fight harmful stuff in your body.

Why choose coconut oil?

Commonly used oils for oil pulling include: coconut oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, corn oil, palm oil, soya bean oil, and rice bran oil. But there are certain properties that make coconut oil superior to its counterparts:

  • The thick consistency of coconut oil acts like a protective shield, preventing plaque and bacteria from causing any harm, like a powerful barrier that stops them in their tracks.
  • Coconut oil contains monolauric and monocapric acids that penetrate cell membranes, disrupting harmful pathogens from their energy supply and nutrient flow.
  • Coconut oil reacts with bicarbonates in your saliva to trigger a process called saponification, which creates a substance that might be effective in cleaning away microbes and plaque.
  • Among all edible oils, coconut oil boasts a high saponification index, making it a master cleaner. When it interacts with sodium hydroxide and bicarbonates in your saliva, it transforms into a soap-like substance called sodium laurate. This soap-like action helps reduce plaque buildup, enhancing the cleansing process.
  • Antioxidants within the coconut oil work to prevent a process called lipid peroxidation, almost like a defense mechanism. This could lead to an antibiotic-like effect, helping to eliminate harmful microorganisms.

Coconut Oil Pulling for Oral Health Enhancement

Impact of a high saponification value from lauric acid

During oil pulling, an interaction occurs between lauric acid found in coconut oil and sodium hydroxide present in saliva. This interaction gives rise to the formation of sodium laurate, a key component of soap. This process, in turn, brings about a cleansing effect and plays a role in reducing the formation of plaque within the oral cavity.

The presence of lauric acid in coconut oil has demonstrated the ability to inhibit the growth of various harmful bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Salmonella typhimurium, and Escherichia coli. A concentration as low as 5% of lauric acid exhibited this inhibitory effect, even when compared to the widely used antibiotic Ciprofloxacin.

Using coconut oil to disinfect dentures

Studies have explored coconut oil’s potential benefits beyond oral health. Research conducted by Ósk Thorgeirsdóttir in 2006 delved into monocaprin acid’s role as a disinfecting agent for dentures, showing enhanced antimicrobial activity against Candida when applied topically. Similarly, a Nigerian study evaluated the concentrated use of coconut oil, which exhibited inhibitory effects on certain Candida species, outperforming fluconazole.

Exploring the research on coconut oil pulling for gum disease

Numerous scientific studies have delved into the effects of coconut oil pulling as a potential therapy for improving oral health. Here, we summarize key findings from a selection of these studies:

  1. A study by Chalke et al. in 2017 involved 75 participants with plaque-induced gingivitis. They found that coconut oil pulling contributed to a significant reduction in plaque and gingival index scores over the course of 30 days. This suggests that coconut oil pulling could be beneficial in reducing plaque-induced gingivitis.
  2. Varsha et al. conducted a randomized controlled clinical trial in 2017, focusing on the effect of oil pulling therapy with pure coconut oil on Streptococcus mutans count. Their results indicated a statistically significant decrease in the number of S. mutans after oil pulling with pure coconut oil. This suggests that coconut oil pulling has the potential to reduce harmful bacteria in the oral cavity.
  3. In a study by Jithender Nagilla et al. in 2017, dental students were divided into groups using coconut oil and a placebo. The study revealed a significant reduction in mean plaque scores after oil pulling with coconut oil, suggesting its effectiveness in controlling plaque levels.
  4. Peedikayil’s study in 2016 evaluated the antibacterial efficacy of coconut oil compared to chlorhexidine mouthwash. Both treatments demonstrated a significant reduction in S. mutans count. This implies that coconut oil has comparable antimicrobial effects to chlorhexidine mouthwash.
  5. Kaushik et al.’s 2016 randomized controlled study compared coconut oil pulling, chlorhexidine, and distilled water. Both coconut oil pulling and chlorhexidine groups showed statistically significant reductions in S. mutans count, indicating the potential effectiveness of coconut oil in reducing harmful bacteria.
  6. An in-vitro study by Shino et al. in 2016 assessed the antifungal activity of coconut oil against Candida albicans, finding it to be effective. Coconut oil’s antifungal effects were compared to those of ketoconazole and 0.2% chlorhexidine.
  7. Peedikayil’s 2015 study focused on teenagers with plaque-induced gingivitis. After 30 days of oil pulling therapy, significant reductions in plaque and gingival indexes were observed, indicating the potential for coconut oil pulling to aid in plaque-induced gingivitis.
  8. Thaweboon’s 2011 in-vitro study assessed the antimicrobial activity of various oils, including coconut oil, against Streptococcus mutans and Candida albicans. Coconut oil demonstrated significant antimicrobial activity against these pathogens.


Why choose Ayurveda – Oil Pulling?

Oral health is closely connected to the overall health of your body. Taking care of your mouth is important because it reflects how well your body is doing. Instead of using too many antibiotics which can be harmful, scientists are now looking into natural herbal products. They want to find safer alternatives to regular medicine. This is important because using natural methods can be better for you and won’t cause harm.

What is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)?

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is a kind of medicine that uses natural and safe practices and products. It’s becoming more popular than regular medicine because it’s cost-effective and doesn’t have harmful side effects. One well-known form of CAM is Ayurveda, which is an ancient Indian way of healing. It focuses on preventing diseases instead of just treating symptoms.

Even today, around 80% of people around the world still use these traditional alternative therapies for their health. Ayurveda has been used for around 5000 years and has been proven to be safe and effective.

Is oil pulling a new Ayurveda technique?

One technique from Ayurveda is called “oil pulling.” It involves swishing oil in your mouth for a while to make your mouth healthier. This natural method has been practiced for centuries and has been mentioned in ancient texts. It’s been used to treat many different problems like diabetes, asthma, headaches, and more.

Oil pulling isn’t new – it has been around for a very long time. It was even discussed in ancient Ayurvedic texts from 3000 BC. People used to call it “Kavala” or “Gandusha.” It has been said to help with around 30 different illnesses. In the 1990s, Dr. Karach in Russia brought back the idea of oil pulling. He talked about how it could help with many health problems like heart diseases, digestive issues, and hormonal disorders.



  • Editorial team

    A team comprising oral health care professionals, researchers, and professional Writers, striving to impart you with the knowledge to improve your oral health, and that of your loved ones. 

  • Lilly

    Lilly, aka, Liza Lee, is a passionate community oral health officer and our lead writer. She's not only well-versed in performing a multitude of dental procedures, including preventive, restorative, and cosmetic, but also an avid writer. Driven by the significant oral health burden all around her, Lilly strives to build capacity and promote oral health. She envisions making a lasting impact by advancing research, prevention, and promotion efforts to alleviate oral health disparities. Please share your views and opinions on my posts.

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