In the beginning, we were skeptical. Swishing coconut oil around your mouth, or the proper term “oil pulling” sounds weird, strange, and frankly maybe like a trend that would have started in California. But it turns out that oil pulling is a kind of oral therapy that isn’t new at all; it has its origins in Ayurvedic medicine dating back 3,000 years. Now that was news. Then our two interns from India announced that not only were they familiar with it but their grandparents used the process of oil pulling daily. So ok, the interns confirmed it. It’s a real thing.

Oil pulling involves swishing approximately one tablespoon of coconut oil around in your mouth. As the oil hits your teeth and gums, microbes are picked up as though they are being drawn to a powerful magnet. Bacteria hiding under crevices in the gums and in pores and tubules within the teeth are sucked out of their hiding places and held firmly in the solution.

The longer you push and swish the oil through your mouth, the more microbes are pulled free. The oil needs to be swished around long enough for it to turn a milky white, which indicates that the bacteria has been “pulled” off. After roughly 20 minutes the solution is filled with bacteria, viruses and other organisms. At this point, the person spits out the oil and rinses thoroughly with water. We know the primary cause of tooth decay is bacteria, so there you go.

Coconut is comprised lauric acid which is very well known for its antimicrobial actions. It chews up the primary bacteria that causes tooth decay. So again, there you go.

People that “oil pull” state that it has helped whiten their teeth, alleviate halitosis, and even reduce gingivitis. In many cases, people also claim that it helps “prevent” cavities, as well as relieve gum and tooth sensitivity. Certainly any process that removes bacteria from a mouth

How to do it.

  • Put a teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth. Don’t think about it. Close your eyes and just do it.
  • Swish gently. If your jaw starts aching after five minutes, slow down. It shouldn’t hurt.
  • Do not swallow the oil while swishing. Like never. The taste will make you see green, plus you’ll be swallowing all those germs. If you find it hard not to, you likely have too much oil in your mouth. Spit it out and try again with a smaller amount.
  • Once you have finished pulling, spit the solution into the trash. This is important, because the oil will congeal and clog up your pipes.
  • Do not drink anything before rinsing your mouth. Rinse with water first before consuming anything. Then for good measure, brush your teeth.

Don’t think this replaces checkups at the dentist. According to our interns their grandparents still go. But their checkups are unusually good.

Want to learn more? Watch this video.