whole purpose of oil pulling is to get rid of the oil-soluble toxins in the
body,” said by a creator of GuruNanda Pulling Oil (Bradford, 2015).
pulling is a long process in which edible oil is rinsed in the mouth to produce
positive effects to oral health (Poonam, Sudhee, Manish, Kuldeep, and Vrinda,
2014). It is a traditional Indian remedy without any solid scientific proof to
prevent decay, oral malodor and for strengthening teeth and gingiva (Poonam et
al, 2014). People who use oil pulling claim that holding and rinsing oil in the
mouth for a certain time can rinse out toxins and bacteria in the mouth (Poonam
et al, 2014).
acts just like a mouthwash, which cleans the mouth. People need to swish about
1 tablespoon of oil around in the mouth for 20 to 30 minutes (Shanbhag, 2016,
p. 106). When the oil is held it in the mouth and swished around the teeth, it is
supposed to rinse out bacteria and other debris (Shanbhag, 2016, p. 107). The
purpose of this practice is to kill harmful cariogenic bacteria and improve
oral health (Poonam et al, 2014).
no reliable scientific studies are present to prove that cavities can be
effectively reduced or other health benefits can be produced by oil pulling (ADA,
2017). Due to the lack of scientific evidence, oil pulling is not recommended
by the American Dental Association (ADA) to use regularly (ADA, 2017). The
public is recommended to maintain good oral health by flossing between teeth twice
a day and brushing twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste for two minutes without
oil pulling (ADA, 2017).
thesis is that oil pulling is not effective in decreasing bacteria, preventing
cavities or reducing halitosis no matter what kind of oil is used.
Oil pulling cannot effectively reduce bacteria
colonization on enamel and reduce cavities. A study was conducted to measure the
count of adherent bacteria on teeth before and after use of oil pulling on
adults (Hannig, Kirsch, Al-Ahmad, Kensche, Hannig and Kümmerer, 2012, p. 649-658). A test group and two control groups were
present. 0.2% Chlorhexidine mouthrinse was used as a positive control group;
the negative control group did not use any mouthrinse (Hannig et al,
2012). Safflower oil, olive oil and
linseed oil were used to rinse for 10 minutes after pellicle was formed on
teeth surfaces (Hannig et al, 2012). Then, the subjects were carried for 8 hours and adherent bacteria were
measured (Hannig et al, 2012). The
results of the study show that oil pulling has no significant antibacterial
effects on teeth compared to the negative control group (Hannig et al,
2012). However, more than 85% bacteria
were reduced with the use of chlorohexidine mouthrinse (Hannig et al,
2012). Therefore, oil pulling with safflower
oil, olive oil and linseed oil are not recommended for the purpose of
decreasing bacteria counts on tooth surfaces.
double blinded controlled study from PubMed compared the effect of different mouthrinses
and oil pulling on bacteria count for children 6-12 years old (Jauhari,
Srivastava, Rana & Chandna, 2015). 4 groups of mouthrinses (fluoride
mouthrinse with 200 ppm sodium fluoride, herbal mouthrinse containing Salvadora
Persica, sesame oil and distilled water) were used in this test (Jauhari et al,
2015). Bacteria count was measured prior to the use of mouthrinses twice a day
for 2 weeks (Jauhari et al, 2015). The effectiveness of fluoride and herbal
mouthrinses was found to be significant while sesame oil pulling was not in reducing
the bacterial colonization of an individual (Jauhari et al, 2015). Results of
the test are shown
Based on the results of
the study, oil pulling with sesame oil should not be used for children to replace
daily dental care with toothbrushes and floss.
In 2015, another study done by Thomas, Thakur and
Mhambrey compared the antimicrobial efficacy of several different mouthrinses.
The results of the in vitro study indicate that even when fluoride is added to
oil, oil pulling is still not as effective as 0.2% chlorohexidine or other mouthrinses
in reducing cariogenic bacteria.
Therefore, oil pulling is not recommended as an effective
antibacterial agent to reduce oral biofilm formation due to lack of solid scientific evidence.
Regular tooth brushing and flossing for twice a day are recommended to continue.
Oral malodor, also called halitosis, is negatively affecting
many people. The release of sulphur compounds from breathes is believed to be the
major cause of oral malodor. Various treatments are available for the public
and many individuals are wondering about the effect of oil pulling on
In order to understand the effect of oil pulling, 2 journal
articles were found from US National Library of Medicine. The study done by Sheikh
and Iyer in 2016 stated that oil pulling with rice bran oil is effective in
reducing halitosis; however, no control group was present to compare the
results, the study participants are not representative and the rinsing time for
the 3 groups were different. In this study, rice bran oil, sesame oil, and
0.02% chlorhexidine mouthrinse were tested on 30 pregnant women for a 2-week period (Sheikh & Iyer,
2016). Halitosis was measured by TANITA breath checker HC-212M-BL, a sulfide
monitor used for detection of volatile sulfides in breathes. Breathes were
measured at a 1 cm distance from the sensor for a particularly time period. However,
30 pregnant women are not representative to all adult population. Therefore,
the results may not be accurate and are not generalizable.
A similar randomized controlled study done by Sood,
Devi M, Narang and Makkar in 2014 is also questionable. The study participants
are teenagers; so, the results cannot be generalized to other age groups. The reduction
of organoleptic scores could possibly due to the smell of the sesame oil itself
and the rinsing action.
data collected above, oil pulling has low efficacy in reducing bacteria and no
strong conclusion was made on the effect of oil pulling on oral malodor. Further
studies with larger sample size that includes all applicable age groups should
be done. At present, adults and
children are not recommended to use oil pulling to improve dental health until
further studies prove its statistically and clinically significant benefits to
individual’s oral health.