Indian Journal of Dental Research

: 2008  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 169-

Oil pulling therapy

Sharath Asokan 
 Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Meenakshi Ammal Dental College, Alapakkam Main Road, Chennai - 600 095, India

Correspondence Address:
Sharath Asokan
Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Meenakshi Ammal Dental College, Alapakkam Main Road, Chennai - 600 095

How to cite this article:
Asokan S. Oil pulling therapy.Indian J Dent Res 2008;19:169-169

How to cite this URL:
Asokan S. Oil pulling therapy. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2008 [cited 2023 Feb 4 ];19:169-169
Available from:

Full Text

There may have been great technological advances in health care, but it is important not to lose sight of the basic protocols of patient care. In the field of dentistry this means establishing and maintaining effective preventive habits in our patients. No matter how sophisticated dental techniques and procedures may have become, preventive dentistry remains the foundation of oral health care. Dental health care professionals need to put home oral hygiene at the core of their advice on preventive practices. The area of oral hygiene has undergone humongous development, and a mundane subject has turned into a field with a surprising amount of growth and research. There are umpteen number of indigenous natural medicinal products which deserve due recognition for their contribution to improving oral health.

The sesame plant (Sesamum indicum) of the Pedaliaceae family has been considered a gift of nature to mankind because of its nutritional qualities and its many desirable health effects. The seeds of the plant are commonly known as 'gingelly' or 'til' seeds. Sesame oil has a high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids and is a good source of vitamin E. [1] The antioxidants present in it are mainly sesamol, sesamin, and sesamolin. [1] Sesamin has been found to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol as well as its production in the liver. It reduces lipogenesis and exhibits an antihypertensive action. [2]

'Oil pulling' or oil swishing is a procedure that involves swishing oil in the mouth for oral and systemic health benefits. Oil pulling therapy with sesame oil has been extensively used as a traditional Indian folk remedy for many years for strengthening teeth, gums, and jaws and to prevent tooth decay, oral malodor, bleeding gums, dryness of throat, and cracked lips. [3] The concept of oil pulling is not new and it has been discussed in the Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita, where it is referred to as kavala graha or kavala gandoosha. [4] For oil pulling therapy, a tablespoon (teaspoon for young children) of sesame 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. It is claimed that the swishing activates enzymes and draws toxins out of the blood. [3] The oil should not be swallowed as it contains bacteria and toxins. Oil pulling therapy should be followed by tooth brushing and rinsing of the mouth. It is preferably done on an empty stomach in the morning.

The question to be answered here is: 'Why is oil pulling being popularized?' Sesame oil has the following advantages over the standard and commercially available mouthwashes: it causes no staining, has no lingering aftertaste, and causes no allergic reactions. It is five to six times more cost-effective than the commercially available mouthwashes and is, moreover, readily available in the household. Considering these benefits, oil pulling therapy with sesame oil should be promoted as a measure for the prevention of oral disease. Sufficient scientific research has not been carried out to evaluate the effect of oil pulling therapy on oral health and this needs to be addressed. The answer to the above question is: 'If we do not support our desi product, who else will?' In the very near future, sesame oil will open new doors in oral health care.


1Namiki M. The chemistry and physiological functions of sesame. Foods Rev Int 1995;11:281-9.
2Available from: [cited on 2007 Oct 2].
3Available from: [cited on 2005 Dec 12].
4Available from: [cited on 2007 Oct 2].