Effect of oil pulling in promoting oro dental hygiene: A systematic review of randomized clinical trials

Complement Ther Med. 2016 Jun:26:47-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2016.02.011. Epub 2016 Feb 20.


Aim: To critically appraise and evaluate the evidence from randomized clinical trials (RCTs) examining the effectiveness of oil pulling on oro dental hygiene.

Methods: We conducted electronic searches in Medline, Embase, Amed, The Cochrane Library and Cinahl databases from inception to February 2015, and assessed reporting quality using the Cochrane risk of bias criteria. We included RCTs that compared oil pulling using conventional cooking oils with a control intervention. Our primary outcomes were measures of oro dental hygiene using validated scales.

Results: Electronic searches yielded 26 eligible studies, of which five RCTs comprising a total of 160 participants were included. The studies varied in reporting quality, lasted between 10 and 45 days, and compared oil pulling with chlorhexidine, placebo or routine dental hygiene practice. Three studies reported no significant differences in post intervention plaque index scores between oil pulling and control groups (Chlorhexidine mouthwash +/- Placebo): p=0.28, 0.94, and 0.38, respectively. Two studies reported no significant difference in post-intervention modified gingival index score between oil pulling and Chlorhexidine mouthwash groups (p=0.32 and 0.64).

Conclusion: The limited evidence to date from clinical trials suggests that oil pulling may have beneficial effects on oro dental hygiene as seen for the short period of time investigated. Given that this is a potentially cost-effective intervention, this practice might be of particular benefit. Future clinical trials should be more rigorous and better reported.

Keywords: Ayurvedic medicine; Dental hygiene; Oil pulling; Oral health; Periodontitis.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Dental Plaque
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mouth / microbiology
  • Oral Hygiene / methods*
  • Periodontal Index
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sesame Oil / therapeutic use*
  • Young Adult


  • Sesame Oil