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oil pulling

Note: This blog post aims to educate visitors about oil pulling and the reported effects. While some studies have demonstrated a decreased bacterial load associated with oil pulling, there is not enough clinical evidence currently available to concretely recommend oil pulling. Salvaggio Dentistry recommends the standard practice of brushing and flossing at least twice daily be met for oral care.

What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is an ancient oral technique that uses oil in a swishing motion in the mouth.

How is it Done?

woman rinsing with mouthwash

First, oil is selected that will be swished around the mouth. The most commonly reported type of oil used is coconut oil. Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is known for its antimicrobial function. Recent studies have confirmed the benefit of coconut oil in the prevention of dental decay. It achieves this by inhibiting the bacteria Strep mutans,  which causes tooth decay. However, other oils such as olive, sesame and sunflower oil are also used.

Approximately one tablespoon of oil is used to be swished around in the mouth. It is recommended that users swish for ten to twenty minutes before expectorating or spitting the oil out. As the oil is swished around the mouth, it makes contact with the gums and teeth. This contact allows microbes to be removed when exposed to the swishing of oil over time. The consistency of the oil allows bacteria to stay in the solution. The majority of microorganisms in the mouth are single-celled. These cells have a lipid membrane, which is fatty. When the cells come into contact with the oil, they will naturally adhere or stick to each other.

Some studies have demonstrated a decreased bacterial load due to oil pulling but, Salvaggio Dentistry still recommends brushing and flossing twice daily as the standard for maintaining oral health. Oil pulling is sometimes used instead of mouthwash for some users. Other users will perform oil pulling first, then continue to floss and brush right after.

woman flossing teeth


If you do decide to try oil pulling, there are a few considerations to take note of. Follow these guidelines:

  • Remember to swish gently to prevent aching of the jaw.
  • Avoid swallowing the oil while swishing.
  • Spit the oil into the trash when you are done, not in your sink to decrease the risk of clogging.
  • Rinse with water once finished oil pulling.


About Dr. Joseph Salvaggio

Dr. Joseph Salvaggio, DDS

Located in Brampton, Ontario Dr. Joseph Salvaggio has been practicing general, cosmetic, and implant dentistry for over 20 years. He enjoys interacting with his patients and helping to restore their oral health for better overall health as well. Meeting new patients, interacting and educating them is one of Dr. Salvaggio’s biggest joys. We encourage you to read our reviews or call us with any dental questions you have. We look forward to speaking with you and meeting you soon.

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