Can I Oil Pull at Night? A Dentist Explains

Yes, you can oil pull at night. While oil pulling is traditionally performed in the morning on an empty stomach, there's flexibility in incorporating it into your nighttime routine if that's more convenient for you.

However, it's essential to consider the timing in relation to your meals. Ideally, oil pulling works best when your mouth is free of food particles, allowing the oil to effectively wash away bad oral bacteria. Thus, if you opt to oil pull at night, try to make sure you've waited at least an hour after your last meal to allow any remnants to clear from your mouth, maximizing the effectiveness of oil pulling at night.

Also, remember that consistency is key to reaping the benefits of oil pulling, whether you do it in the morning or at night. Incorporating it into your nightly routine can serve as a relaxing and mindful practice before bedtime, promoting overall oral hygiene and potentially contributing to fresher breath and healthier gums over time. That said, in comparing oil pulling vs mouthwash, most people prefer to use herbal mouthwash as it's less time consuming and generally more effective.

In this article, I'll explain everything you need to know about oil pulling and whether or not you should do it at night.

What is oil pulling?

Oil pulling is a traditional Ayurvedic practice for improving oral hygiene and for spiritual benefits.

It involves swishing oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes to remove bacteria and dislodge buildup between your teeth. Back then, this process was used to treat bad breath and gum disease and, while less common now, continues to be practiced today for similar benefits.

While oil pulling was originally conducted with sesame and sunflower oil, virgin coconut oil is more common now. Any oil, including sunflower oil or olive oil, can be used for oil-pulling therapy, but coconut oil has been popularized due to its high lauric acid content and pleasant taste.

Just remember, to maximize the oral health benefits of oil pulling, we recommend brushing with toothpaste tablets, flossing with expandable floss, and using a tongue scraper daily.

How does oil pulling work?

Oil pulling works by dislodging harmful bacteria from between your teeth before it has a chance to organize into plaque.

Essentially, the oil helps emulsify the bacteria and debris in your mouth, allowing it to be spit out after ~20 minutes. Clinical and diagnostic research suggests that this practice supports a healthy oral microbiome.

That being said, it takes about 20 minutes for oil pulling to have a significant impact on your oral hygiene. Therefore, it is one of the more labor-intensive oral health practices and may not fit into your daily overall health routine.

When should you oil pull?

The optimal time to engage in oil pulling is first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything. This allows the oil to effectively bind with toxins and bacteria in your mouth without interference from food particles.

However, if you need to do your oil pulling at night after eating, it's best to wait at least an hour after your meal to ensure that most of the food particles have cleared from your mouth. By following these timing recommendations, you can maximize the effectiveness of your oil pulling routine for better oral health.

Oil Pulling at Night Benefits

Proponents of oil pulling suggest that it has benefits that include:

  • Reducing oral bacteria associated with cavities and gingivitis

  • Removing plaque buildup along the gumline

  • Whitening teeth

  • Eliminating bad breath

  • Preventing periodontal disease progression

  • Lowering risk of tooth decay

These potential benefits largely come from oil pulling’s presumed ability to reduce bacterial load in your mouth. However, there is no academic consensus on the benefits of oil pulling due to the lack of clinical research.


A woman practicing oil pulling

There is some evidence that oil pulling may reduce the number of bacterial colonies living in your mouth. However, this is a newly evolving field of research and more evidence is required to fully understand the impact.


By reducing the number of bacterial colonies in your mouth, oil pulling may have some impact to reduce the incidence of halitosis.


A person showing his teeth

Oil pulling is an effective treatment against plaque. In fact, one study found that "both coconut oil and sesame oil can be used for oil-pulling therapy with the aim of plaque regrowth inhibition". Interestingly, this study also found that this same mechanism had a positive impact on tooth staining as well.


Preliminary evidence shows that oil pulling may help fight gingivitis by reducing your plaque index. However, it is unclear how significant these results are and whether they can be replicated.

Oil Pulling at Night Side Effects

A man having a mouth problem

Oil pulling is generally considered safe although it may lead to some side effects or dangers in certain individuals.

These side effects can include nausea, upset stomach, or an unpleasant taste in the mouth, especially if you do not spit out the oil properly after swishing. Some people may also experience jaw fatigue or soreness from the prolonged swishing motion required when they practice oil pulling.

Additionally, there have been rare reports of lipoid pneumonia, a condition caused by inhaling small amounts of oil into the lungs, although this risk is extremely low when oil pulling is done correctly.

Let's walk through some of the oil pulling side effects in greater detail.


Swallowing oil during oil pulling can lead to feelings of nausea, particularly if you accidentally ingest a significant amount. This sensation may occur due to the texture or taste of the oil or just from your stomach's reaction to the oil.

To prevent any discomfort, it's crucial to spit out the oil thoroughly after swishing. Further, you can start by swishing with a small amount of oil before gradually progressing to a larger amount of oil and a longer duration of oil pulling. Finally, you can choose to start with a lighter oil that has a milder taste like sunflower oil.

Upset Stomach

A man experiencing upset stomach

Along with nausea, ingesting oil during oil pulling may cause an upset stomach for some people. This discomfort can manifest as abdominal pain, bloating, or indigestion.

To prevent this from happening, make sure that you fully spit out all of the oil after oil pulling and do your best to avoid swallowing it. You can also rinse your mouth out thoroughly with water after oil pulling to remove any residual oil that may otherwise cause stomach discomfort.

Jaw Fatigue or Soreness

Unfortunately, the repetitive swishing motion required during oil pulling can lead to jaw fatigue or soreness, especially if you perform it for an extended period. This discomfort may arise from overuse of the jaw muscles and typically resolves with rest.

Taking breaks or reducing the duration of oil pulling sessions can help alleviate this issue. Additionally, you can try gently massaging the jaw muscles before and after oil pulling to help prevent fatigue and soreness.

Lipoid Pneumonia

In rare cases, inhaling small amounts of oil into the lungs during oil pulling may lead to lipoid pneumonia, a type of pneumonia caused by lipid or oil aspiration. While the risk is minimal when oil pulling is performed correctly, it's essential to be cautious and avoid inhaling the oil.

To minimize the risk of lipoid pneumonia, you should ensure you're using the proper technique for oil pulling, which involves swishing the oil around your mouth and then spitting it out, rather than inhaling or swallowing it.

Allergic Reactions

Individuals with allergies to certain oils, such as coconut or sesame oil commonly used for oil pulling, may experience allergic reactions. Symptoms can include itching, rash, or swelling of the mouth or throat. If this sounds like you, make sure to choose an oil that you tolerate well and discontinue use if any allergic symptoms occur.

How to Do Oil Pulling Before Bed

A woman practicing oil pulling

Whether oil pulling in the morning or not, it can be a tricky practice for beginners. For how to oil pull effectively, try following some of these tried-and-true tricks to improve your experience with it:

Oil Pulling on an Empty Stomach

According to Ayurvedic tradition, it's best to perform oil pulling first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. This allows the oil to interact with the oral bacteria effectively without interference from food particles.

Start Slow and Gradually Increase Duration

For how long to oil pull, it really depends on your personal comfort levels. If you're new to oil pulling, start with just 5 minutes and gradually work your way up to 15-20 minutes. This allows your mouth to get accustomed to the sensation and helps prevent discomfort or jaw fatigue.

Spit Out the Oil

After swishing the oil around in your mouth, spit it out into a trash can or tissue. Avoid spitting it into the sink to prevent clogging due to the oil solidifying at lower temperatures.

Consistency is Key

For optimal results, aim to perform oil pulling daily. Consistency is important to experience the full benefits, such as improved oral hygiene and fresher breath.

Combine with Regular Oral Care Routine

Oil pulling should complement, not replace, your regular oral hygiene routine. Make sure that you're still brushing your teeth with toothpaste tablets twice a day, tongue scraping, and regularly using alkaline mouthwash to maintain your oral health.

How long should I oil pull?

According to Ayurvedic tradition, you should oil pull for about 15-20 minutes in the morning on an empty stomach. That said, it's important to recognize that while this is an ancient practice, our current scientific evidence supporting the correct time duration to oil pull is limited.

Anecdotally, many practitioners report they have positive experiences with oil pulling and experience benefits like fresher breath, less plaque buildup, and improved gum health. However, it's important for us to take this anecdotal evidence with a grain of salt because we don't have scientific consensus on the benefits of oil pulling.

Therefore, while adhering to the generally recommended 15-20 oil pulling duration can be a good starting point, you'll want to adjust the duration based on your personal comfort and experience.

Other Tips for a Healthy Oral Care Routine

In addition to oil pulling, there are many oral health practices that you should incorporate in your daily routine to ensure you have the healthiest smile possible. In this section, we'll walk through some of the most important ones.

Brush Twice Daily

Since oil pulling does not remineralize teeth or fix cavities, brushing your teeth is essential for removing plaque and preventing and reversing tooth decay. Use nano hydroxyapatite toothpaste and brush for two minutes, reaching all surfaces of your teeth and along the gumline. Aim to brush once in the morning after breakfast and once before bed to keep your mouth fresh and clean throughout the day and overnight.

Floss Daily

Flossing is just as important as brushing your teeth is. In fact, it's essential to remove food particles and plaque from between your teeth as well as under the gumline. Make using expandable floss a daily habit, ideally before brushing your teeth, to ensure a thorough cleaning of hard-to-reach areas. Using dental floss or interdental brushes can effectively remove debris and reduce the risk of cavities and gum inflammation.

Use Mouthwash

Incorporating a mouthwash into your oral care routine can provide additional benefits such as freshening breath, reducing plaque buildup, and fighting bacteria. Choose an alcohol-free mouthwash with plenty of herbs to naturally nourish your oral microbiome. Rinse with mouthwash after brushing and flossing to complete your oral hygiene regimen and leave your mouth feeling clean and refreshed.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

Make sure to schedule appointments with your dentist every six months for professional cleanings and examinations. Your dentist can identify and treat any dental problems promptly, preventing them from worsening and requiring more extensive interventions in the future.

Limit Sugary Foods and Drinks

Sugary snacks and beverages can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease if consumed in excess. Limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks, opting for healthier alternatives like fruits, vegetables, and unsweetened beverages. When you do indulge in sweets, be sure to brush your teeth afterward or rinse your mouth with water to minimize the risk of cavities.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is beneficial for oral health as well as overall well-being. Water helps rinse away food particles and bacteria, neutralizes acids in the mouth, and stimulates saliva production, which helps protect against tooth decay. Aim to drink water regularly, especially after meals and snacks, to keep your mouth hydrated and your teeth clean.

Avoid Tobacco Products

Smoking and chewing tobacco can have severe consequences for oral health, including stained teeth, bad breath, gum disease, and oral cancer. If you use tobacco products, consider quitting or seeking assistance to quit. A

voiding tobacco altogether is the best way to protect your oral and overall health and maintain a beautiful smile for years to come.

Eat a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet rich in nutrients is essential for healthy teeth and gums. Include a variety of foods from all food groups, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and dairy products, in your daily meals.

Nutrients like calcium, vitamin C, and phosphorus are particularly beneficial for dental health, helping to strengthen tooth enamel, fight bacteria, and promote gum health. By eating a well-balanced diet, you can support your oral health and overall well-being.

Can you oil pull with a crown?

Yes, you can oil pull with a dental crown.

Dental crowns are designed to withstand the normal activity of the mouth, including swishing or pulling oil. In the event that a dental crown becomes loose or falls off, you should seek the care of a dental professional.

Summary: Can you oil pull at night?

While traditionally performed in the morning on an empty stomach, oil pulling can be done at night for those who find it more convenient. However, it's crucial to consider the timing concerning meals.

To maximize effectiveness, wait at least an hour after eating before oil pulling at night as this allows food particles to clear from your mouth and ensures the oil can thoroughly cleanse and bind with oral bacteria.

Whether done in the morning or at night, consistency is key to reaping the benefits of oil pulling. Incorporating it into your nightly routine can serve as a relaxing practice before bed, promoting overall oral hygiene, fresher breath, and potentially healthier gums over time.

However, it's essential to note that while oil pulling is favored by some for its holistic benefits, most individuals opt for mouthwash due to its convenience and effectiveness in comparison.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you brush your teeth before or after oil pulling?
You should brush your teeth before oil pulling. This helps remove any food particles or plaque buildup from the teeth and gums, allowing the oil to better reach and cleanse the surfaces of your teeth. After oil pulling, you can rinse your mouth with water and then proceed with your regular oral hygiene routine, which may include brushing and flossing.

Why is oil pulling done on an empty stomach?
Oil pulling is typically done on an empty stomach because this timing allows the oil to effectively bind with toxins and bacteria present in the mouth without interference from food particles. This ensures maximum contact between the oil and oral surfaces, enhancing the cleansing and detoxifying effects of the practice. Additionally, oil pulling on an empty stomach may promote better absorption of the oil's beneficial properties into the oral tissues.

Can I do oil pulling after dinner?
While you can technically do oil pulling after dinner, it's better to perform it on an empty stomach, preferably in the morning before eating. Oil pulling after dinner may not be as effective due to the presence of food particles in the mouth, which could interfere with the oil's ability to bind with toxins and bacteria. However, if you choose to do oil pulling after dinner, wait at least 30 minutes after eating to allow for some digestion before starting the process.

What is the recommended time for oil pulling?
The recommended time for oil pulling is typically around 15 to 20 minutes. This duration allows the oil to thoroughly swish around the mouth, bind with toxins and bacteria, and effectively cleanse the oral cavity. Swishing for too short a time may not yield optimal results, while swishing for too long may cause jaw fatigue or unnecessary strain. Therefore, aiming for approximately 15 to 20 minutes is considered ideal for oil pulling.

Is oil pulling better at night?
While oil pulling can be done at any time of day, it is better to perform it in the morning on an empty stomach for optimal effectiveness. This allows the oil to thoroughly bind with toxins and bacteria in the mouth without interference from food particles. However, if you prefer to do oil pulling at night, you can certainly do so. Just be sure to wait at least 2 hours after eating to allow for proper digestion before starting the process. Ultimately, the best time for oil pulling depends on your personal preference and schedule.

Are there negatives to oil pulling?
Yes, there are potential negatives to oil pulling, including side effects such as nausea, upset stomach, and jaw fatigue. In rare cases, inhaling oil during oil pulling may lead to lipoid pneumonia, although this risk is minimal when the practice is done correctly. Additionally, individuals with allergies to certain oils used in oil pulling may experience allergic reactions. Therefore, for worry-free mouth cleaning, consider using alcohol-free mouthwash as a safe and effective alternative to oil pulling.

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NOBS Toothpaste Tablets
NOBS Toothpaste Tablets
NOBS Toothpaste Tablets
NOBS Toothpaste Tablets
NOBS Toothpaste Tablets
NOBS Toothpaste Tablets
NOBS Toothpaste Tablets
NOBS Toothpaste Tablets

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