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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 33-35

Oil pulling therapy in dental practice: A short review

Pediatric Dentist, Pathak Dental Care, Karnal, Haryana, India

Date of Web Publication16-Feb-2016

Correspondence Address:
Sidhant Pathak
Pathak Dental Care, Karnal, Haryana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0976-433X.176481

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Preventive medicine is very famous nowadays. In spite of progress in medical field ayurvedic medicine for preventing oral diseases cannot be ignored. Oil pulling in which oil is swished in the mouth is known to cure various oral and systemic ailments. This article aims at highlighting the age old practice to prevent not only oral diseases but also systemic diseases associated with oral diseases.

Keywords: Ayurveda, oil pulling, prevention

How to cite this article:
Pathak S. Oil pulling therapy in dental practice: A short review. SRM J Res Dent Sci 2016;7:33-5

How to cite this URL:
Pathak S. Oil pulling therapy in dental practice: A short review. SRM J Res Dent Sci [serial online] 2016 [cited 2023 May 31];7:33-5. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Oil pulling or oil swishing is a procedure which involves swishing oil in the mouth for oral and systemic benefits.[1] Pure oils when used as antibacterial agents inhibits harmful bacteria, fungus and other organisms of the mouth, teeth, gums, and throat.[2]

Oil pulling is also a traditional home remedy to prevent teeth decay, oral malodor, bleeding gums, dryness of throat and cracked lips and for strengthening the teeth, gums, and jaws.[3]

The concept of oil pulling was familiarized by Dr. Karach in the 1990s in Russia. It is claimed to cure about 30 systemic diseases ranging from headache, migraine to diabetes and asthma.[4],[5],[6]

Chlorhexidine is considered to be a gold standard, acts as an antiplaque, anticaries, and antigingivitis agent.[7],[8] It may discourage compliance because of its unpleasant taste and undesirable side effects such as tooth staining and alterations in taste sensations.

It may discourage compliance because of its unpleasant taste and undesirable side effects such as tooth staining and alterations in taste sensations.

Sesame oil has various advantages over chlorhexidine such as no staining, no lingering aftertaste, and no allergy. Sesame oil is cost-effective than chlorhexidine and is readily available in the household. There are no disadvantages for oil pulling therapy except for the extended duration of the procedure compared with chlorhexidine. Hence, oil pulling carried out with sesame oil, or sunflower oil plays a vital role in treating plaque, gingivitis and eradicating dental caries.[9]

  Mechanism of Action Top

The exact mechanism of oil pulling is not known, but it was claimed that swishing oil in the mouth activates enzymes and draws toxins out of the blood. However, sesame seed oil, because of its antioxidant effect may detoxify toxins, potentiate the action of Vitamin E, prevents lipid peroxidation and have an antibiotic effect.[10]

Studies on the mechanism of action of oil pulling therapy were done, and it was found that emulsification process of oil started 5 min after oil pulling. The emulsification occurs due to agitation of oil in the mouth leading to the formation of a soapy layer which can alter the adhesion of the bacteria on the tooth surface, remove superficial worn out squamous cells and improve oral hygiene.[11] As it prevents bacteria adhesion, it also prevents plaque coaggregation.[12]

  Procedure Top

For oil pulling therapy, a tablespoon (a teaspoon for children) of sesame or sunflower oil is taken in the mouth, sipped, sucked, and pulled between the teeth for 10–15 min. The viscous oil turns thin and milky white in consistency. It is claimed that this swishing action activates enzymes and draws toxins out of the blood.[13] The oil should not be swallowed as it contains bacteria and toxins. It must be preferably disposed in a paper towel. Oil pulling must be followed by tooth brushing and rinsing of the mouth. It is better to perform oil pulling in the morning on an empty stomach.

  Oils Used in Oil Pulling Top

Oil pulling unlike other medical treatments is simple, harmless and inexpensive. It only requires a spoonful of vegetable oil. Oil pulling therapy can be done using edible oils such as sesame oil and sunflower oil.

The sesame plant (Sesamum indicum) has been considered a gift of nature due to its many desirable health benefits. Sesame oil has a high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids and is a good source of Vitamin E. The antioxidants present in it are mainly sesamol, sesamin, and sesamolin.[14] Sunflower oil is also known to be effective. It is high in the essential Vitamin E and low in saturated fat.[15] Coconut oil may also be used. It has lauric acid which is proven to be antimicrobial.[16],[17]

  Role in Oral Cavity Top

A few studies have been carried out in the literature regarding oil pulling for oral health. Amith et al. have shown that oil pulling therapy with sunflower oil significantly reduced plaque scores after 45 days.[18] Sharath et al. showed that oil pulling therapy was very effective against plaque induced gingivitis both in clinical and microbial assessment.[6] Another study by Asokan et al. showed a definitive reduction in the Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva after oil pulling therapy [12] thus reducing the incidence of dental caries. It is also known to deal with the problem of halitosis [19] which is proved in the study by Sharath et al.

  Role in Systemic Health Top

There is no literature or scientific proof to accept the role of oil pulling therapy for systemic health benefits except for anecdotal testimonies. However, a survey was conducted by an Indian daily newspaper (Andhra Jyoti) in 1996 on the effects of oil pulling on various diseases. Out of 1041 readers who responded, 927 (89%) reported healing effects and 114 (11%) did not report any disappearance of symptoms or illnesses. The chronic diseases that were reportedly cured included heart diseases, diabetes, diseases of the digestive system, skin problems, allergy and respiratory problems, physical pains, and diseases of the female reproductive system. A homeopathic physician from India reported three cancer cases cured by the oil pulling therapy.[20]

  Conclusion Top

Oil pulling therapy with edible oils cannot be used as a treatment adjunct as of now, but it promises to be a better preventive home therapy in developing countries like India. Extensive studies with larger samples, varying time periods, and long time follow-up should be carried out to establish the efficacy of oil pulling therapy in prevention of halitosis. The exact mechanism of action of oil pulling therapy is still not clear hence further research studies with sesame oil will lead to wonderful approach in the field of dentistry for maintenance of oral health.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Asokan S. Oil pulling therapy. Indian J Dent Res 2008;19:169.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
The Health Benefits of Oil Pulling. Available from: . [Last assessed on 2015 Oct 12].  Back to cited text no. 2
Hebbar A, Keluskar V, Shetti A. Oil pulling – Unraveling the path to mystic cure. J Int Oral Health 2010;2:11-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
Sechi LA, Lezcano I, Nunez N, Espim M, Duprè I, Pinna A, et al. Antibacterial activity of ozonized sunflower oil (Oleozon). J Appl Microbiol 2001;90:279-84.  Back to cited text no. 4
The Health Benefits of Oil Pulling. Available from: . [Last accessed on 2015 Dec 15].  Back to cited text no. 5
Asokan S, Emmadi P, Chamundeswari R. Effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Indian J Dent Res 2009;20:47-51.  Back to cited text no. 6
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Addy M, Moran JM. Clinical indications for the use of chemical adjuncts to plaque control: Chlorhexidine formulations. Periodontol 2000 1997;15:52-4.  Back to cited text no. 7
Jones CG. Chlorhexidine: Is it still the gold standard? Periodontol 2000 1997;15:55-62.  Back to cited text no. 8
Laxmi R, Rajendran R, Krishnan V. Perspectives of oil pulling therapy in dental practice. Dent Hypothesis 2013;4:131-4.  Back to cited text no. 9
Hebbar A, Keluskar V, Shetti A. Oil pulling – Unraveling the path to mystic cure. J Int Oral health 2010;2:10-3.  Back to cited text no. 10
Asokan S, Rathinasamy TK, Inbamani N, Menon T, Kumar SS, Emmadi P, et al. Mechanism of oil-pulling therapy – In vitro study. Indian J Dent Res 2011;22:34-7.  Back to cited text no. 11
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Asokan S, Rathan J, Muthu MS, Rathna PV, Emmadi P; Raghuraman; Chamundeswari. Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent 2008;26:12-7.  Back to cited text no. 12
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Namiki M. The chemistry and physiological functions of sesame. Foods Rev Int 1995;11:281-9.  Back to cited text no. 14
Kabara JJ, Swieczkowski DM, Conley AJ, Truant JP. Fatty acids and derivatives as antimicrobial agents. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1972;2:23-8.  Back to cited text no. 16
Hoffman KL, Han IY, Dawson PL. Antimicrobial effects of corn zein films impregnated with nisin, lauric acid, and EDTA. J Food Prot 2001;64:885-9.  Back to cited text no. 17
Amith HV, Ankola AV, Nagesh L. Effects of oil pulling on plaque and gingivitis. J Oral Health Community Dent 2007;1:12-8.  Back to cited text no. 18
Asokan S, Kumar RS, Emmadi P, Raghuraman R, Sivakumar N. Effect of oil pulling on halitosis and microorganisms causing halitosis: A randomized controlled pilot trial. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent 2011;29:90-4.  Back to cited text no. 19
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Available from: . [Last accessed on 2015 Oct 05]  Back to cited text no. 20

This article has been cited by
1 Knowledge and Awareness About Effects of Sesame Oil Pulling and Its Health Benefits Among Dental Students of Igids, Puducherry: A Cross Sectional Study
Murugaboopathy Vikneshan,Senthil M,Krishnapriya V
Journal of Scientific Dentistry. 2018; 8(2): 2
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


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