How Long Should You Oil Pull? A Dentist Explains

According to Ayurvedic tradition, you should oil pull for about 15-20 minutes in the morning on an empty stomach. However, 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.

In this article, I'll explain everything you need to know about how long to oil pull.

What is oil pulling?

A woman practicing 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.

Many people enjoy oil pulling as it's gentle enough to do with crowns and fillings while others believe that in comparing mouthwash vs oil pulling, mouthwash is a more convenient option.

Benefits of Oil Pulling

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.


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.

Bad Breath

A woman smelling her breath

One of the key benefits is that oil pulling removes bacteria. By reducing the number of bacterial colonies in your mouth, oil pulling may have some impact to reduce the incidence of halitosis.

Plaque Buildup

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.

Gingivitis and Inflammation

A woman experiencing gingivitis

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.

Side Effects of Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is generally considered safe although it may lead to some side effects 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 having an 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., 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

woman having an allergic reaction in oil pulling

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 Oil Pull for Great Dental Health

To oil pull effectively, follow these steps:

  1. First choose your oil: Select a high-quality, edible oil such as coconut oil, sesame oil, or sunflower oil. Coconut oil pulling is popular due to its pleasant taste and potential antibacterial properties, but oil pulling with coconut oil isn't the end-all-be-all of this practice.

  2. Measure the oil: Take about 1-2 tablespoons of oil and put it in your mouth.

  3. Swish the oil: Swish the oil around in your mouth for about 15-20 minutes. Be sure to pull the oil through your teeth and around your gums. Avoid gargling or swallowing the oil.

  4. Spit out the oil: After 15-20 minutes, spit the oil out into a trash can or tissue. Don't spit it into the sink as it could solidify and clog your drain over time.

  5. Rinse your mouth: Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water or salt water to remove any remaining oil residue.

  6. Don't forget to brush your teeth: Since oil pulling doesn't remineralize teeth, it can't be the only tool in your toolkit. To avoid improper, poor oral hygiene, be sure to follow up with your regular oral hygiene routine, including brushing with toothpaste tablets and flossing.

Repeat this process daily or several times a week for best results. Most people practice oil pulling in the morning before eating instead of at night.

Do dentists approve of oil pulling?

Dentists generally approve of oil pulling as long as it is included in a holistic oral care routine including brushing with nano hydroxyapatite toothpasteexpandable floss, tongue scraping, and using herbal mouthwash

Many dentists acknowledge that oil pulling may have some potential benefits, such as reducing harmful bacteria in the mouth and promoting oral hygiene. However, the scientific evidence supporting these claims is mostly anecdotal, and more rigorous scientific studies are needed to confirm the effectiveness of oil pulling.

So, be aware that while oil pulling is a safe practice, you shouldn't let it replace traditional oral care methods.

Should I use mouthwash instead of oil pulling?

Yes, you should choose mouthwash instead of oil pulling if you're looking for a convenient, quick, and effective method to freshen your breath.

In comparing mouthwash vs oil pulling, they can both be beneficial for oral health, but they serve slightly different purposes. People typically use mouthwash to freshen breath, kill bacteria, and reach areas of the mouth that may be difficult to clean with brushing and flossing alone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you brush your teeth before or after oil pulling?
You should brush your teeth after oil pulling to ensure that any remaining oil residue is removed and to maintain overall oral hygiene. Brushing after oil pulling helps eliminate bacteria and plaque effectively. Remember to rinse your mouth thoroughly with water before brushing to remove any lingering oil. This sequence helps maximize the benefits of both oil pulling and brushing.

Can you overdo oil pulling?
Yes, it's possible to overdo oil pulling. While it's generally safe when practiced in moderation, excessively long sessions or frequent oil pulling throughout the day may lead to unintended side effects such as throat irritation or upset stomach. It's recommended to start with shorter sessions (around 10-15 minutes) and gradually increase the duration if desired, but it's important to listen to your body and stop if you experience any discomfort. Like any oral hygiene practice, moderation is key to avoiding potential adverse effects.

How do I know if my oil pulling is working?
You can gauge if oil pulling is working for you by monitoring any subjective improvements in your oral health, such as fresher breath, reduced plaque buildup, or healthier gums. However, it's important to note that while oil pulling may be effective for some individuals, there is a lack of comprehensive scientific studies regarding its efficacy. Therefore, for safe and effective oral care, it's advisable to incorporate other proven methods such as using toothpaste tabletsexpandable flosstongue scraper and alkaline mouthwash to better take care of your overall oral health.

Can you just rinse after oil pulling?
After oil pulling, it's important to spit out the oil rather than just rinsing. This ensures removal of toxins, bacteria, and debris from the mouth. Rinsing with water afterwards helps to further cleanse the mouth and prevent reabsorption of any expelled substances. It also promotes a feeling of freshness. Overall, spitting out the oil followed by rinsing with water is the best practice for effective oral hygiene.

Are there negatives to oil pulling?
While oil pulling may offer potential benefits like reducing plaque and improving gum health, there are drawbacks to consider. These include the lack of scientific evidence supporting its efficacy, the necessity of maintaining traditional oral care practices like brushing and flossing, the time commitment involved in oil pulling, potential discomfort, and the risk of accidental inhalation, particularly for young children or those with difficulty controlling mouth movements. Thus, it's crucial to view oil pulling as a supplementary practice alongside established oral hygiene routines and to consult with a dentist for personalized advice.

What should you not do after oil pulling?
After oil pulling, it's important to avoid consuming food or drinks immediately to allow your mouth to cleanse fully. Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth to prevent potential enamel damage. Do not swallow the oil during the process, as it may contain bacteria and toxins. While rinsing with water is beneficial, avoid using mouthwash immediately afterward to maintain the effectiveness of the oil pulling.

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

NOBS Toothpaste Tablets

Regular price$40
Shipping calculated at checkout.

NOBS is everything toothpaste should be - all the good stuff, and none of the junk.

Fluoride Free
Never any fluoride, and no harsh abrasives.

We used the magical remineralizing power of 5% nano-hydroxyapatite to protect your teeth long-term. It's the safest alternative to fluoride!

Unlike messy tube toothpaste, NOBS are easy to store and use anywhere.

Thanks to our unique blend of natural ingredients, NOBS will make your breath as fresh as you look. Instead of gross sweeteners that cover up a natural slightly bitter aftertaste, our organic mint will leave you so kissable. Trust us, your date will thank you.

Cleans Effectively Without Damaging Enamel

With an enviable RDA of 21.38, NOBS Toothpaste Tablets are intentionally designed to help you gently buff out surface stains and break up plaque biofilm without causing damage to your enamel. Thanks, baking soda!

Flex on TSA

NOBS toothpaste tablets don’t apply to the 3.4oz limit. Fly with confidence that you won’t be condemned to a dirty mouth while you travel.

No Mess

Never worry about your toothpaste tube exploding over your other toiletries. NOBS toothpaste tablets come in an air-tight glass jar, free of plastic and without the mess. Unscrew, chew, and renew your mouth.

No Plastic

We want you to disrupt your brushing routine, not your endocrine system. Unlike other brands, our product is free of all plastics and BPAs.

Perfect Size

NOBS toothpaste tablets are individual and perfectly dosed. No more squeezing, no more tube sliding against the edge of your sink and definitely no wasted toothpaste.

Safe for Children

Protecting little ones is our top priority. NOBS provides the safest oral care for pregnant women and their families. Just monitor and ensure that your child can chew and swallow safely before introducing them to NOBS.

This product is not suitable for pets. Humans only, please!

While xylitol is great for supporting the human oral microbiome, it can be toxic to pets. Please keep NOBS away from your furry friends, and contact your veterinarian immediately if consumed by your pet.

Fluoride Free Toothpaste Tablets