Oil Pulling Update

oil pulling

Image and text by Gabrielle.

In January, I wrote a post about oil-pulling and confessed that I hadn’t brushed my teeth since the first week of December. It’s been a few months and I thought I would give a little update.

It’s a short update! Basically, I’m still at it. I still oil pull every morning for 20 minutes — even when I’m traveling. I still love it. I still see benefits. I still use this coconut oil. I still haven’t seen the dentist (I know. I know. I need to go!), but I have been to the orthodontist, who took full x-rays. He doesn’t know I’m oil-pulling, but commented that my oral hygiene was (and I quote) “impeccable”. That’s good news! Especially considering my teeth haven’t been professionally cleaned since July 2013.

Most of all, I still think it’s quite crazy that I don’t brush or floss or use toothpaste or mouthwash. And I haven’t for almost 5 months now. Hah!

I promise, I’m not offended at all if you feel like it’s quackery. This is not something I feel like a passionate advocate for — I haven’t asked anyone to try it, even my kids. And I get that other people might try it and decide they don’t like it at all. For me, it’s a pretty straightforward thing and doesn’t involve much mystery — I can see and feel that my teeth are cleaner after oil pulling, I can tell that my breath is better, I can see that my teeth are whiter. If I didn’t experience physical differences after the oil pulling, I’m sure I would have given it up. But for now, I plan to stick with it until I don’t enjoy it anymore.

I’d love to hear what your thoughts are. Have you tried oil pulling? Did you like it? Did you find it impossible to swish for 20 minutes? Have you tried different oils? Does the whole idea make you roll your eyes? Chime in!

P.S. — If you have no idea what I’m talking about when I say oil pulling, start with this post, where I explain what I know about oil pulling and link to more sources on the subject.

108 thoughts on “Oil Pulling Update”

  1. I tried oil pulling for the first time two days ago. I really wanted to like it but I have to admit I gagged after about 5 minutes! There are a couple of variables.. maybe I used too much oil, or the wrong brand? I might try it again, but for now i need to recover from that! lol. :)

    1. I would definitely recommend starting with a small amount of oil — like maybe a half a teaspoon for the first time. If you’re using coconut oil, you’ll have to wait until the oil melts in your mouth before you can start swishing it around, and it can feel strange to have a solid clump of coconut oil sitting on your tongue. So a small amount is easier to get used to.

    2. I used too much the first time I tried it. The oil pull adds more liquid with saliva and everything that it’s pulling and by the end I have a mouth full of liquid. I only use maybe a teaspoon. I took me a while to get used to it.

  2. I am currently in the midst of my second foray into oil pulling, but like Sarah, I was gagging and found it really gross at first. I decided to try again because my sensitive teeth were SO INCREDIBLY LESS SENSITIVE (sorry to scream, but I didn’t think it was possible for me to ever drink even slightly cool water) after just a week of pulling. This is so gross, but helps with gagging, I usually brush my tongue or use a scraper before I pull. Also, I realized I was using too much oil, I use a little more than a teaspoon now and it’s great!

  3. I tried it and do it off and on. I am lazy because of my two small kids…one that won’t sleep. My mornings are tired and intense moving. I want to make it a daily routine though. I will try! Thanks for the update! I did, however, start using it to wash my face and I LOVE it! I will forever do this. My face feels so good. Takes makeup right off and smells wonderful. Not sure I’ve noticed major changes thus far, but I’ve been luckily blessed with nice skin. It does not clog my pores.

      1. All you need to do is rub the oil on your face like it was soap. Then wipe it off with a warm wet washcloth. It should break down the dirt and makeup and keep your skin smooth. I use it like I would use cold cream.

        Thanks doll,
        The Glamorous Housewife

  4. I can’t get past the idea of swishing around mouth yuck + oil for 20 minutes without the comfort of the germ-killing zing provided by toothpaste & mouthwashes.

    How do you get past it? And do it with littles? Mine are 2 & 4!

    1. “I can’t get past the idea of swishing around mouth yuck + oil for 20 minutes”

      Hah! When you put it that way, I can’t get past the idea either. If I think about it too hard it’s so gross!

      The thing about the swishing is that once the coconut oil is in liquid state, it just feels like swishing water in your mouth. It doesn’t feel strange. I’ve tried it with olive oil as well and it also just felt like water during the swishing.

  5. I am curious but have to say the 20 min thing put me off with a three year old and 11 month old not sure when I would have 20 mins that I wouldn’t need to talk but I love coconut oil for a million other reasons and just found out it relieves mosquito bite itchiness and it has saved my life as I get eaten alive

  6. I have tried it with coconut oil & gagged after about two minutes, but I really cannot stand the smell or taste of coconut anything, so I am planning on trying with sunflower oil. Fingers crossed that it’s not as gross to me!

    1. Wendy, you might consider trying sesame oil. It’s the original oil used in this Ayurvedic practice. Ayurveda is an Indian traditional medicine.

  7. I tried it, since I would love to have whiter teeth, but the whitestrips available at the store my my teeth unbearable sensitive. I was pretty excited to give it a go, but I popped a small spoonful of coconut oil in my mouth, and less than a minute later I was gagging and spitting it out into the trash! *shudder* That texture still makes me cringe. I should have known–I’m pregnant, and right now my gag reflex is super overactive. I want to try again, though. If I still gag, I’ll wait till after baby is born!

  8. I tried this after you last posted about it. I didn’t have the oil in my mouth for more than a few seconds before I gagged and threw up everything I’d had for breakfast. How do you manage to do it without gagging?

  9. Oh hurray! I was hoping you’d give an update soon. I’ve been oil-pulling for several months now, and I’m having the same kind of experience as you (though I still floss at night and brush with water). I haven’t been as stringent about doing it first thing in the morning though–sometimes if I’m busy working or writing, I don’t do it until late morning or even early afternoon. Do you think this matters?

    I hope you’ll give another update after you go for a cleaning.

  10. I tried it after reading your original post about oil pulling and I have found that I can only so a small amount (about a teaspoon) so I don’t gag. I also wondered how you make the beds and remember to keep swishing. I do it for about 10 minutes as that is all I can get in while I’m getting ready in the morning and I’m constantly forgetting to swish as I blow dry my hair and get dressed. Anyway, I still find that it has improved my oral hygiene and how clean my teeth feel even though it is less than the 20 minutes you recommended. I still brush and floss as well so this is in addition to what I usually do, but I like the feel in my mouth.

    With the type of coconut oil that I use there is no coconut flavour or oily feeling once it melts, so it just feels like swishing water in your mouth. Thanks for the update Gabby as I was wondering what your dentist would say about the not brushing or flossing.

    p.s. I think of you every morning as I get ready for work now ;)

    1. I definitely take breaks from the actual swishing as I got about my morning chores. Sometimes I get distracted, or sometimes I just swish slowly and then try to swish more powerfully for the last few minutes.

    2. I’m curious for you or anyone else who continues to brush or floss, what order do you do it in? Like, brush w water, floss, coco oil or floss, coco oil, brush…. So. Many. Questions.

      I still haven’t tried it because i read something about it possibly being bad for crowns. Also, i’d want to do it at night rather than the morning, and I’m never quiet for 20 minutes! Haha

  11. Curious? Do you do this each morning before coffee or tea? Or after breakfast? Also, have you tried this at night before bed? Instead of the morning? From what I’ve read, it seems you pull only once a day? Is that correct?

    1. I almost always do it before I’ve eaten anything — I put the oil in once the kids are out the door. But sometimes, I’ll oil pull late in the morning if I have an interruption to my usual schedule. I have tried it once at night and it seemed fine as well. I really don’t know if time of day matters, or how much it matters.

  12. 1. Is there a recommended amount to use? 1 tsp or 1 tbsp?
    2. Is it weird that the coconut oil is basically a solid when you scoop it out of the jar? Does it just turn liquid in your mouth?
    3. I cannot get over the name “oil pulling” brings to mind pulling taffy at the fair.

    1. I only use about a teaspoon or I gag and yes the coconut oil is solid and melts when you put it in your mouth. My coconut oil is tasteless so you really feel like you are swishing water. I’m totally with you on the taffy pulling imagery – this isn’t as much fun ;)

  13. I’v tried it for three weeks with coconut oil. I found it difficult to swish for 20 minutes so I gave myself permission to start slow and work up to the 20 and I’m almost there. I have a very strong gag reflex and swishing for that long is hard.My teeth do feel better and look better.

  14. I’ve been oil pulling for almost four months now and continue to see the benefits. I use a teaspoon as soon as I wake up — the only 20-minute period of time when my family doesn’t expect an answer from me. My teeth are whiter and any sign of bad morning breath is gone. I sometimes brush with water at night but otherwise, I am toothpaste free. One interesting note: My husband, who had an almost brown, discolored tooth, joined me in oil pulling two months ago. Already, his once discolored tooth looks several shades whiter and much healthier. We’ve been pretty impressed so far!

    1. I was intrigued the first time Gabrielle wrote about oil pulling, but after your comment, Wendy, I am very tempted to try. I have a dead tooth (past injury) and am sensitive about the discoloration. White strips didn’t make much of a difference. Perhaps coconut oil will!

  15. Thanks so much for the update! I’m fascinated and want to try it, but I am currently pregnant with a very sensitive gag reflex, so I think I’ll wait a few more months.

  16. I have been doing it since the very first time to mentioned it and I love it! It took a lot of work to get up to the full 20 minutes, but now I can without gagging or getting a sore jaw. I have introduced some friends to it as well! I’ll admit I still brush and floss at night, but I love how clean my teeth stay throughout the day! Thanks for the introduction!

  17. I have been oil pulling now for 2 months, and I am super excited that my teeth are visibly whiter, staining is mostly gone, and the sensitivity that I dealt with has vanished. I have been told repeatedly by my dentist that I am an agressive brusher, and was brushing away my gums. Oil pulling has saved me from making my problem worse. I oil pull in the morning for 20 minutes, then follow up with flossing. In the evening I floss again, and about every 3rd day, I will brush in the evening. I have also noticed dewier looking skin on my face and better sleep in the evenings. I thought I would gag as others have described, but I found a mild coconut oil and it really seems like I am swishing water. I have been spreading the word to everyone that I know, especially my fellow agressive brushers! Thank you Gabby for bringing this discussion up.

  18. This must be a sign – I was literally just thinking about oil pulling and here is a post! I really need to try it. I have seen some people brush their teeth afterwards too so I guess it can’t hurt.

  19. I noticed whiter teeth immediately when I started oil pulling! Also, I had a pain in my jaw and assumed the worse, but honestly, after swishing with oil two days in a row the pain went away. I haven’t done it in a few weeks, but this is a good reminder to get back to it.

    Regarding the gagging, you all should definitely try smaller amounts. I put a little in my house, hold it on my tongue until it melts, then read the news and check email while I swish. I am terrible about swishing though and will inevitably spit oil on my computer screen!

  20. I was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and kept hearing about the magic of coconut oil. So reading your blog post tipped me over the edge and I started oil pulling shortly after. I love it!!! My teeth feel clean and strong. I recommend it to everyone.

  21. I could have written this post! I’m right there with you…

    I must share that I have a really hard time with room temp coconut oil… so I use my little candy mold (each mold holds ~1 Tbl.) Melt the oil on the stove, spoon it into the molds, chill then dump them into a cute little container kept in the fridge. It’s sooooo much easier for me to pop one in my mouth and chew it to get it to the liquid/swishing state! I couldn’t do it otherwise =)

    Also – my boys HATE brushing their teeth but my 10-year-old will oil pull! Yay!

  22. My dentist told me she doesn’t use tooth paste. She said it is terrible for people with sensitive teeth and gums. It does nothing more than make people feel like they have clean teeth.

    1. How awesome that your Dentist is so honest! It’s true, toothpaste was a marketing gimmick, nothing more. Even the sudsing people are used to was added to make people think their mouth was clean. Interestingly, when I’m forced by circumstance to use a conventional toothpaste, after spitting and all I notice tons of dirty spots I “missed” while using it… the sudsing makes it harder to tell where your brush has been. Brushing with something that doesn’t suds up is so much better, not to mention the toxic ingredients in most toothpaste.

      Gabrielle, I didn’t realize until reading this that you don’t brush after. I thought traditionally you’re supposed to brush after? Is this a personal choice or have you read other information about it?

      Also, has anyone experienced an increase in mucus in the throat after pulling? I experienced this for a bit, then it cleared. Afterwards I read that this is a GOOD sign… pulling is supposed to pull phlegm out of the nasal passages, so it’s getting rid of it. Cool!

  23. I tried it once and although my mouth got tired I didn’t find it nearly as gross as I thought I would. I haven’t done it again,though, because I can’t seem to find a clear answer on what effect it might have on existing crowns and fillings — I have one porcelain crown and fillings of various types in almost every tooth. Will they get loosened or damaged by the oil pulling?

  24. I have a TERRIBLE habit of brushing my teeth for WAY too long. I just wander around the house, check my email, tidy up, etc. all while brushing. I know it is horrible for my gums, so this could actually be the perfect substitute! I’ve actually been waiting to hear an update and this just pushed me over the edge. I am getting some tonight and my gums are going to thank me! (and you!)

  25. So I’ve been doing it since your last post (thank you!) and I love it. I still feel plaque on my teeth if I don’t brush at night though. Do you not have this problem? I’d love to stop brushing all together, but there is no way! Any tips for that?

  26. I started oil pulling about three months ago and I really love the results so far. My teeth feel cleaner and look whiter. My face seems softer and better moisturized. Also, my PMS symptoms have lessened greatly. That was a benefit I did not expect!

  27. I noticed that both of my sisters commented on this post (there’s no denying that you started a little movement in our family!). I also tried it, and this might sound funny, but I felt the urge to swallow the oil. Did you have that problem?

    I’m wondering if I was either using too much oil? or doing it too soon after waking up? Perhaps it’s better to do it after drinking a few glasses of water?

    Am I the only one with this problem?

    Thanks for the update! Hearing your positive experience update is giving me the push to try it again!

    1. I have that problem too and read somewhere else online that it’s normal. The suggestion I read said to move the oil to the front of your mouth and do a “dry swallow”. Apparently it is just a reflex, maybe due to the saliva you produce while doing it.
      I’m curious about the not brushing afterwards too. At first it seemed of to brush the oil off, but then reading about how the oil is actually removing toxins from your mouth made me think I should get rid of all of it. It doesn’t seem to have been a problem for anyone here though!

  28. I also started oil pulling after I read your post in January! I love it and definitely feel my teeth are cleaner. I have my next dentist appointment at the end of April, and I am excited to see if they notice any difference.

    To answer a few questions, I do it at night after my kids (ages 5 and 1) are in bed. I get the full 20 minutes in. Never had an issue with gagging. I like the Trader Joe’s brand of organic coconut oil. I still brush every once in a while if I want that minty fresh breath. I don’t have any crowns, but my fillings seem to be fine.

    Another side benefit: My lips are so smooth and haven’t chapped all winter! This is the first winter I could say that!

  29. Tried it. Didn’t love it; went back to brushing. However, your posts are kind of making me want to give it another go. : )

    I can see how if you could carve out a good time block for the 15-20 min. of swishing that it might become almost like meditation in effect – something to cause you not to talk or do too many other things at once during that 20 minutes. So maybe I will try again.

  30. Anyone know if there are issues with oil pulling if you have braces? I seem to remember that if you have silver fillings not everyone recommends it as it pulls to many toxins? I’m not sure about it but would also like info on pulling if you have crowns or fillings. Love the possibilities.

  31. It’s great that oil pulling works so well for you, I’m really intrigued by the potential for whitening. It also sounds like you had pretty healthy teeth to begin with if you’re able to go that long between cleanings. I’m very prone to cavities and have weak enamel so definitely would not replace regular brushing and flossing with JUST oil pulling. Probably the simple fact that, if I were oil pulling, I would be spending more time and attention on my oral hygiene than just doing a cursory brush (which I know I am likely to skip or shorten if I’m lazy) would give me a much cleaner mouth in general. Still I think it’s a bit irresponsible to tacitly advocate skipping out on a full medical-science-based oral hygiene routine in favor just oil-pulling. Anyway, I completely understand you’re just speaking from personal experience and I greatly appreciate your non-evangelist approach to this oil-pulling “craze”!

  32. I’ve tried it and liked the results. The only thing I noticed that bothered me is when flossing afterwards I seemed to have oil pieces stuck in between my teeth. That made me gag a little. Otherwise once I got over the initial difficulty of having the hardened coconut oil in my mouth (Lamaze techniques — focusing on something else like music or a tv program because oh my goodness is that sensation awful), I’ve been really happy with how it’s made my whole mouth feel fresher and cleaner.

  33. I’ve tried oil-pulling a few times. It didn’t make me gag but it felt as if my mouth was ‘saving up’ saliva the whole time. At the end of 20 mins it felt as though I had twice the amount of liquid I started with, which felt pretty horrible and made me think it somehow wouldn’t work so well. Does anybody else have this problem? (Sorry for the gross-factor here, but a post like this does rather invite it :-)

    1. The saliva build up happened to me too, but after the first week or so, it diminished. I have been doing it for months now and I don’t have the problem at all any more.

  34. the first time you wrote about oil pulling, i commented that i was intrigued and would probably try it. i told my husband about it and we agreed we might just try together some day. fast forward a few months to two days ago, when i noticed my gums were swollen/bleeding a little, and thought maybe oil pulling would help. then i read this post and went straight to my husband to discuss it with him again.

    we’re swishing oil as we speak. it doesn’t taste yucky, but keeping it in my mouth without spitting it out or swallowing it is a bit of a challenge. i’m kind of excited to see what happens!

    btw, Anna, i feel like i have twice the liquid in my mouth too!

  35. I’ve been oil-pulling for a couple of months, and I use coconut oil as well. I just hold it in my cheek until it melts, never had an issue with it grossing me out! : ) I also got a good report from my dentist, and no plaque at all – amazing! I found a study done by NIH, too, so there’s some science behind it — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3131773/ My Tim is trying it too, and never has there been a more sceptical sceptic. It’s pretty logical – oil is a solvent and a preservative (anti-bacterial).

  36. I have been oil pulling since your first post! I have been wondering though, and this may be a dumb question, but what do you do at night? Do you oil pull then as well? That’s what’s been keeping me from completely giving up on toothpaste!

  37. Awesome, I’ve tried it before but haven’t done it consistently. You’ve inspired me to start up again. Thanks!

  38. I have been loving it since you first mentioned it back in January. The only problem I have it forgetting to do it in the mornings in my rush to get out of the house on time. So I got a second jar to keep in the car. I find my drive to work is the best time to swoosh. I just keep a disposable cup (with a lid) in my cupholder to spit into when I get to work. I live in the Midwest and it’s currently cold (actually snowing today UGH) so the cup doesn’t get gross. That might not be the case in the summer though :).

  39. I tried it and I liked it, but I still have questions! I have always brushed my teeth after eating, so I brush several times a day. I researched oil pulling and everything I read says do it once a day, in the morning. Do you just do it in the morning, or do you do it after each meal? I don’t think I can go the entire day without cleaning my teeth!


  40. I’ve been oil pulling since I first read it on Design Mom! I’ve suffered from Periodontal disease for many years despite flossing and brushing religiously! Anyone that has had root planing knows the pain is enough to inspire strict dental obedience!! I swish morning and night but also floss and brush. I just didn’t feel like my teeth were clean NOT brushing. What I’ve noticed…gum health improvement and decreased sensitivity. I haven’t noticed the teeth whitening – I’m hopeful. But, just to improve my gum health to stop bone loss is a BIG deal. My first dental check up since oil pulling is tomorrow…wish me luck!

  41. So, I picked up coconut oil to try pulling today. I got the liquid kind and not the more solidified version because I think I need to work my way up to it. Not sure if it’s the right thing to do or I should have just gone all in, but I’m gonna try! You’re post today is a great push too!

  42. I’ve been oil pulling since reading it on your blog. I’m an easy gagger but this has been no problem for me. The 20 min goes by so fast. I wanted to do it for my breath and I have a patch of psoriasis above my eye. It is said it cures that. My husband has noticed a difference in my breath and my psoriasis is almost gone. I’ve been treating it with drugs for almost 5 years with no results until oil pulling. I do brush with toothpaste briefly because I like the minty taste. I highly recommend oil pulling. Thanks Design Mom for msking us aware!

  43. GAGGERS – read this. I have been pulling for several months in the mornings and I’m a gagger but not with this. I melt the oil in a baby food glass jar for about 20 second till it barely melts then I add one drop of clove oil which takes away the coconut flavor and is also good for your teeth. When the oil is body temperature there is no gagging because it feels like nothing going into your mouth. After 20 minutes I spit into a Baggie and throw in garbage. I get the phlem thing too which is great! I was getting cold after cold this winter until I started oil pulling. Haven’t been sick since.
    FACE – I have a glass baby food jar in my bathroom. I put a little of the solid Coconut oil in my hands and smear on my face and eyes, then I take a wet hot washcloth and place over my face and let everything steam. It feels soooo good. Then I just wipe everything off. Face is moisturized and cleaned in one step. ( I go through a lot of wash cloths) Every other day I use a face brush in the shower to
    exfoliate. After I shower I use coconut oil as my body moisturizer. No more chemicals for me. My skin is very soft and I’m 60!

  44. Thanks so much for your update. Your blog was the first place I read about oil pulling and I felt compelled to try it after doing random internet reading like you.
    It has been about 3 months since I started doing it every morning. I probably only swish for between 10-15 minutes, but have found it very easy to build into my routine. Not only have I seen results with better breath, whiter teeth, clearer skin and overall feeling clean, but I have consistently seen significant increase in my energy level throughout the day. Also, as a DC native and therefore lifelong allergy sufferer (pollen), I have been SHOCKED that I have had little to no allergic symptoms thus far in the pollen season. I urge others to give it a shot! Thanks again.

  45. I read about oil pulling recently, but the VAST variety of purported health benefits made it sound too good to be true. I tried it out of curiosity and definitely noticed how clean my teeth felt. Didn’t stick with it because of my gag reflex but I’ll try using less.

  46. This is very interesting. I was looking to see if there were any studies on the technique and the only thing I could find was a controlled trial that compared sesame oil pulling to mouthwash use(presumably the participants continued their typical brushing habits). No data on coconut oil though. FYI The sesame oil did have comparable effects to the mouthwash on halitosis and plaque inhibition.

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