Oil Pulling Research: Pros and Cons

While oil pulling has been practiced for centuries, its effectiveness remains a topic of debate. Here’s a look at some recent research on oil pulling with various oils, highlighting both potential benefits and drawbacks:


  • Reduced Plaque and Gingivitis: A 2017 review by Gbinigie et al. [1] involving 60 participants found that coconut oil pulling may be as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash in reducing plaque and gingivitis. However, the authors call for more high-quality studies.

  • Improved Bad Breath: A 2th study (2011) by Hajare et al. [2] with 40 participants indicated that sesame oil pulling could be a helpful addition to oral hygiene routines for reducing halitosis (bad breath).


  • Limited Evidence: Many studies on oil pulling have methodological limitations, making it difficult to draw definitive conclusions.

  • Swallowing Risks: Accidental swallowing of oil can lead to digestive upset or, in rare cases, lipoid pneumonia (oil entering the lungs) as noted by Rudra in a 2020 Forbes article [3].

  • Not a Replacement: Oil pulling should not replace regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental care, as emphasized by several researchers, including those in the 2017 review [1].


While some studies suggest potential benefits for oral health, particularly in reducing plaque and bad breath, the research on oil pulling is ongoing. Larger, well-designed studies are needed to confirm these findings and better understand the mechanisms at play. It’s important to remember that oil pulling is not a substitute for proper oral hygiene practices and regular dental checkups. The American Dental Association does not recommend oil pulling as a dental hygiene practice.
Talk to your dentist before incorporating oil pulling into your routine, especially if you have any pre-existing oral health conditions.

Please note: This is not an exhaustive list of all research on oil pulling.

Additional Resources:

For further information, you can consult resources like the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (https://www.nccih.nih.gov/) and discuss oil pulling with your dentist.