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A Dentist's Perspective On Coconut Oil Pulling

The internet is an infinite depth of misinformation and subliminal marketing. A question we have been asked quite frequently this year amongst the social media generation  “Does coconut oil-pulling cure help with healthy teeth and gums?”

What is it?

Oil pulling is the somewhat unusual term for the practice of swishing a type of unrefined plant oil (e.g., coconut, sesame, sunflower, olive, palm) around in one’s mouth for around 20 minutes. This activity is touted, when practiced thoroughly and regularly as having a variety of oral hygiene benefits, such as whitening teeth, strengthening gums, and eliminating plaque. Pulling refers to the potential ‘pulling’ out of toxins from the body.

The idea of rinsing one’s mouth with oil is thought to have originated the in the ancient Ayurvedic Indian natural medicine text Charaka Samhita, where “oil gargling” was described as a natural remedy for oral diseases.

Does it work?

All the supporting evidence behind the supposed medical benefits of oil pulling is of the anecdotal variety (“This really works! Try it.”)There is some limited evidence for less plaque accumulation, however, any fluid rinsing for 20 minutes has this effect!

As for detoxifying the body, oil pulling can have zero effect on this, especially since the human body has such wonderful organs such as the kidneys and liver to do this for us already.


A wonderful marketing ploy by the natural health food companies which will do little else but skew the annual sales of coconut oil for the next few years. Whilst it won’t actually damage your teeth, there are much easier, cheaper and more effective ways to care for your teeth and gums such as:

  • Regular Dental checkup and cleans
  • Regular flossing
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Use a mouthwash.