Folk remedy

Sir, I write in response Dr Ballal's letter on oil pulling (BDJ 2009; 207: 193). 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 decay, oral malodour, bleeding gums, dryness of the throat and cracked lips.1 The concept of oil pulling therapy is not new and it has been discussed in the Ayurvedic text, Charak Samhita as 'Kavala Graha' or 'Kavala Gandoosha'. However, there is no scientific proof to support this therapy as a preventive adjunct, with online searches showing only testimonies and literature on personal experiences. With this in mind, randomised controlled pilot trials were conducted in Meenakshi Ammal Dental College, Chennai, India to assess the effect of oil pulling therapy on caries, gingivitis and halitosis.

A study group used oil pulling with a positive control group using chlorhexidine mouthwash. Both were equally effective in reducing Streptococcus mutans count over a six-month period and were better than tooth brushing alone.2,3 There was no significant reduction in the DMF scores in either group after a follow-up period of one year. However, there was a statistically significant reduction of the pre- and post-values of the plaque and modified gingival index scores with a considerable reduction in the total colony count of the microorganisms in both the study and the control groups. Additionally. there was a definite reduction in the organoleptic scores and BANA test scores in both groups.

Oil pulling promises to be an effective preventive home therapy to maintain oral hygiene and research is currently in progress to discover its exact mechanism of action, which could open new doors in the field of research in oral health care.


  1. 1

    Asokan S . Oil pulling therapy. Indian J Dent Res 2008; 19: 169.

  2. 2

    Asokan S, Rathan J, Muthu M S, Rathna Prabhu V et al. Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: A randomized, controlled, triple blind study. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent 2008; 28: 12–17.

  3. 3

    Asokan S, Emmadi P, Chamundeswari R . Effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Indian J Dent Res 2009; 20: 47–51.

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Asokan, S. Folk remedy. Br Dent J 207, 568 (2009).

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