Below are a few evidence based articles I have found related to "oil pulling" or "oil swishing" with coconut oil and the dental benefits regarding it.
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Coconut oil swishing
Coconut oil swishing
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Oil Pulling/ Oil Swishing
Oil pulling or “gundusha” is an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique to draw out toxins from your body. The method requires the user to swish oil such as sesame seed oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil (since coconut oil has a pleasant taste, I would recommend using this oil.) in their mouth for 20 minutes. The purpose of oil pulling is a natural alternative to mouth wash, it reduces bad breath by eliminating harmful material, prevents cavities, and seems to reduce inflammation and improve gum health.
According to a study 60 people were split into 3 groups; group A had rinsed with 10ml of coconut oil for 10 minutes while group B rinsed with 5ml chlorhexidine mouth wash for 1 minute. Group C, the control group, took 5ml of distilled water for 1 minute before brushing. Saliva samples were collected and cultured on 1st day and after 2 weeks from all subjects. Colonies were counted to compare the efficacy of coconut oil and Chlorhexidine with distilled water. There was a statistically significant reduction in S. mutans count was seen in both the coconut oil pulling and Chlorhexidine group.
Another study evaluated the effect of coconut oil swishing on plaque formation and plaque induced gingivitis. 60 boys and girls from ages 16 – 18 years with plaque induced gingivitis added oil pulling to their daily routine for 30 days. A statistically significant decrease in the plaque and gingival indices was noticed from day 7 and the scores continued to decrease during the period of study.
As someone who is generally interested in alternative medicine, I decided to try and see for myself how oil pulling would work for me. I chose to use Coconut oil since it seemed the most common, I also know that coconut oil contains vitamin E which is an antioxidant and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties thanks to the lauric acid and monolaurin (this is the science behind how it must act as a natural mouthwash). Coconut oil also contains Vitamin A which is good for the immune system, and the vitamin D is good for strengthening the bones, including teeth. I decided to warm by oil up in the microwave to make more of a palatable texture, then I took a spoonful and swished in my mouth for 20 minutes. The oil grows as you continue to swish since it is pulling the saliva and toxins with it. After the 20 minutes I spit it in the garbage (since it is thick, I didn’t know if it would clog the drain), then I brushed my teeth. I did this process for a week so far. I started to get a headache after day 2 and through research, It must have been “detox” headaches because I stopped getting them after day 4. Even after just 7 days, I do notice my teeth getting slightly whiter.
Overall, more research needs to be conducted on how successful oil pulling is at preventing gum disease and cavities, however I do recommend it as an alternative to mouthwash if you can tolerate the texture and are someone who would rather use organic and natural products where possible.
Kaushik M, Reddy P, Sharma R, Udameshi P, Mehra N, Marwaha A. The Effect of Coconut Oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans Count in Saliva in Comparison with Chlorhexidine Mouthwash. J Contemp Dent Pract. 2016;17(1):38-41. Published 2016 Jan 1. doi:10.5005/jp-journals-10024-1800
Peedikayil FC, Sreenivasan P, Narayanan A. Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis - A preliminary report. Niger Med J. 2015;56(2):143-147. doi:10.4103/0300-1652.153406
Natural medicines are becoming more popular in the United States, however, in some Asian and African countries, 80% of the population depends on traditional, natural medicines as a primary source of health care. Herbals are the most popular form of traditional medicine and many benefits have come along with using these traditional medicines even though the science and technology around health care are ever-growing and advanced.
Oil pulling is a procedure that involves swishing oil in the mouth for oral and systemic health benefits. This is claimed to cure over 30 systemic diseases ranging from headaches and migraines to diabetes and asthma. Oiling pulling can be done using sunflower or sesame oil. Oil pulling can be used to clean the oral cavity when pushing is contraindicated in a patient. Gandusha is a technique that involves filling the mouth completely with fluid so that gargling is impossible and held for 3-5 minutes and then released. Kavala Graha is when a comfortable amount of liquid is retained in the mouth and held for 3 minutes and then gargled. These techniques are used to reduce bad breath, dry face, dull senses, exhaustion, and loss of taste.
A study was done to evaluate the effect of sesame oil pulling on plaque-induced gingivitis when compared with the efficacy of chlorhexidine mouthwash. The oil pulling therapy shed a reduction in the plaque index, modified gingival scores, and the total colony count of aerobic microorganisms in the plaque of adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis.
Oiling pulling can prevent surgery and the use of medication to treat chronic illnesses. There is also evidence that oil pulling can cure several chronic illnesses. Amazingly, a local technique can provide total body effects. Ayurveda, a traditional medicine system in India, advises oil gargling to purify the entire body because each section of the tongue is connected to different organs of the body including kidneys, lungs, liver, heart, small intestines, stomach, and spine.
The oils used for pulling are 30 straight-chain fatty acids that contain antibacterial and antifungal properties that contain 8 gram negative and 12 gram positive coverage. This is especially helpful because it kills bacteria that is the main cause of gingivitis and plaque build up that can lead to cavities in the teeth.
Many benefits are associated with oil pulling. If done as directed, it can disinfect the mouth of harmful bacteria, reduce the presence of bad breath, help to prevent cavities, reduce inflammation, and improve overall gum health. The best way to see results is to switch about a tablespoon of oil around your mouth for 15-20 minutes, spit used oil into a trash can (to avoid clogging sinks and toilets and repeat a few times a week.
Kabara JJ, Swieczkowski DM, Conley AJ, Truant JP. Fatty acids and derivatives as antimicrobial agents. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1972;2(1):23-28. doi:10.1128/aac.2.1.23
Link R. 6 Benefits of Oil Pulling — Plus How to Do It. Health Line. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-benefits-of-oil-pulling#TOC_TITLE_HDR_4. Published July 1, 2017. Accessed January 13, 2021.
Singh A, Purohit B. Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2011;2(2):64-68. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.82525
Hi Dr. Cesiro, I have decided to write a small summary on the origin of this CAM therapy from the link you have provided.
Dental deformities such as oral cavities, plaque, and infections were managed with coconut oil in accent India. Oil pulling is also known as Kaval Gandush, and is claimed to help cure about 30 different systemic diseases.
Ayurveda recommends chewing sticks in the morning after every meal to prevent diseases. These chewing sticks would come from different fresh stems of plants. Neem is a famous herbal chewing stick. A study that took place analyzing about 2000 children in Mumbai for dental caries found that ones using neem datum found to have less dental caries. In southern India, mango leaf is another thing that is widely used for cleaning teeth.
Oil pulling is in CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) and provides both oral and systemic health benefits. Since hard brushing is not recommended when a mouth ulcer happens, oil pulling can be used as an alternative. It can also provide benefits to bad breath, dry face, exhaustion, loss of taste, impaired vision, and sore throat.
5 benefits of Coconut oil swishing is the following:
can kill harmful bacteria in your mouth
could help reduce bad bread
it may help prevent cavities
seems to reduce inflammation and improve gum health
cheap and easy add to your routine
Coconut oil vs mouthwash
Another study was done with 60 people, split into 3 groups:
Group A: rinse with 10 ml coconut oil for 10 mins
Group B: rinse with 5 ml Chlorhexidine mouthwash for 1 minute
Group C: 5 ml distilled water for 1 minute in the morning before brushing
The results showed that there was a reduction in the bacteria Streptococcus mutans count in both coconut oil AND the chlorhexidine group
Hello Ruchira, Thank you for your information about the Ayurvedic dental technique of "oil pulling," also known as "kavala" or "gundusha." Here is another article that may be of interest: Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health
Coconut oil swishing- what exactly is it?
“Oil pulling” or “oil swishing” is a method where people rinse or swish oil in their mouth. Some common oils used for this are sesame oil, sunflower oil and coconut oil. Coconut oil contains lauric acid which have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. Your body breaks down lauric acid and it can kill bacteria, fungi and viruses in your body. Lauric acid is more effective at killing these pathogens than any other saturated fatty acid. Lauric acid is especially good at killing oral bacteria called Streptococcus mutans that leads to tooth decay. I have researched a couple studies to see the effect of coconut oil swishing, where you would use coconut oil as a substitution to mouthwash.
Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis
60 boys and girls ages 16-18 with plaque induced gingivitis were included in the study and were told to use oil pulling in their daily hygiene routine.
This trial excluded patients who used systemic or topical antibiotics and had a history of dental treatment in the past month. Basically the study wanted to compare the baseline and post intervention. Plaque index was measured at baseline, days 1, 7, 15 and 30. Day 1: mean gingival index was 0.91 and plaque index was 1.19. Day 30: mean gingival index was 0.401 and plaque index was 0.385. Index is calculated by dividing the number of plaque containing surfaces by the total number of available surfaces. The result of this study showed that there was decrease in plaque index for patients.