Is coconut oil for teeth a good idea? Discover the benefits and instructions of use

Peter March

Written by Peter March DDS, Nichole McKenna DDS

Coconut oil carries several health advantages, oral and otherwise. The absorbent properties of natural lipids can remove bacteria from the body. What’s more, oil pulling can be performed during other activities, such as taking a shower or bathing, which makes it easy to incorporate into your daily routine.

Coconut oil pulling is an ancient Indian folk remedy that dates back 3,000 years. The practice has recently become popular online. Reviews claim that it freshens the breath and whitens teeth. Let’s explore whether coconut oil can actually improve your oral health.

What is oil pulling?

How does coconut oil improve your mouth’s condition?

Coconut oil’s benefits, that have been confirmed by scientists, can cumulatively lead to better oral health. Have a look at what oil pulling can do for your mouth.

The bacteria that is present in plaque may lead to gingivitis. This is a disease of the gums. Symptoms include tender, red, or swollen gums that sometimes bleed. Coconut oil has bacteria-killing and plaque-reducing properties and may decrease the inflammation and prevent discoloration caused by these issues.

While it is not a cure, a 2015 study has found that it can significantly lessen discomfort and the amount of plaque in the mouth.

Coconut oil teeth whitening effects

How to use coconut oil for teeth?

Following the guide below will help you source many benefits from the ancient practice.

Consult with a dentist

Introduce coconut oil pulling gradually

Start by putting a tablespoon of oil into your mouth. Sip a little water if it’s more solid than liquid. Sit upright and breathe through your nose. At the beginning, try to swish it around in your mouth for about 5 minutes. You can extend the duration up to 15-20 as you continue this practice. This makes it easier to build up the habit.

Here are a couple of tips that can make it more comfortable and convenient:

  • Do not put too much oil into your mouth at first. It will be harder to keep it in your mouth, especially if you are just beginning.
  • Don’t swallow. It may make you nauseous.
  • Keep your face muscles relaxed.
  • Try to spit into a trash can when you're done, especially if you perform the treatment every day. Oil can clog up pipes pretty quickly.

Many patients quote best results when pulling oil on an empty stomach. There is no evidence, however, that this makes a difference. Incorporate the solution into your routine in a way that will make most sense for you.

Keep up proper oral hygiene


This practice is safe to conduct every day.

Other than a coconut oil allergy, there are not many contraindications. The product is edible, so no amount should cause damage to your body. Some case reports bring attention to lipoid pneumonia, however this is extremely rare and only happens if patients overdo what is recommended.

The oil itself is not what whitens teeth. It is the cumulative benefits it brings. This means it will take longer for you to see effects than with, for example, whitening strips. Use the technique for about a month in order to judge the changes it can bring to your mouth.

The NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) claims that oil pulling removes chemical, bacterial, and environmental toxins from the blood.

According to the official statement, for now, the American Dental Association does not support oil pulling to improve oral hygiene. This is mainly due to the lack of scientific evidence of its effectiveness.

Nonetheless, practice and new research show positive effects of using coconut oil for teeth. More and more dentists suggest their patients try coconut oil pulling to support their everyday oral hygiene routine.

Coconut oil is an ingredient many people have in their kitchen cupboards anyway. If not, you can buy it in most grocery stores and supermarkets.

You may want to look for coconut oil in a tube. Those are often lemon oil or peppermint oil flavored. This solution is less messy than using a spoon and a jar of coconut oil.