Mouthwash vs oil pulling: Which is better? Know benefits and side effects | Health

Brushing, flossing and rinsing are considered basics of dental care and each of them play an important role in maintaining oral hygiene. Rinsing complements brushing as the former can help remove food particles that may be still left in the mouth post brushing. Much before mouthwash was invented, people used oil pulling for safeguarding their teeth and gums. With the increasing popularity of Ayurveda, oil pulling made a comeback in recent times and many people are relying on this natural oral care technique for dental health. Experts say that both mouthwash and oil pulling are safe for dental care and each of these techniques have unique benefits. (Also read: Not just dental health, oil pulling has these other amazing benefits too!)

Both mouthwash and oil pulling claim to offer unique benefits for oral hygiene.(Freepik, Pinterest)

“The most basic part of a good modern oral hygiene regime is using mouthwash. However, much before modern oral care was invented, simpler techniques like oil pulling were used as a natural means to protect teeth and gums.

Oil pulling, even though an ancient technique has gained popularity in recent years. Both mouthwash and oil pulling claim to offer unique benefits for oral hygiene. It is important to understand the differences between mouthwash and oil pulling, their potential advantages and inherent limitations help you determine which option may be better suited for your needs,” says Dr Diksha Tahilramani Batra, The Pain Free Dentist Prosthodontist, Implantalogist and Smile Design Specialist.

Dr Diksha explains benefits and side effects of both the rinsing techniques in detail.

Mouthwash benefits and side effects

Mouthwash is the practice of rinsing the mouth with a chemical solution either diluted or undiluted with antibacterial properties which add fresh breath and reduce bacteria in your mouth.


  • Reduces Plaque and initial gum disease by complementing oral hygiene procedures like brushing and flossing.
  • Contains a bactericidal component called chlorhexidine most commonly which prevents gum disease by controlling bacteria.
  • Fresh breath especially in patients with halitosis or foul breath.


Mouthwash can cause burning and discomfort if the alcohol content is too much in them. Certain mouthwashes are too strong. It is best to either use them diluted or to watch out for the percentage and concentration and if possible, use alcohol-free mouthwashes.

Oil pulling benefits and side effects

The practice of swishing oil, most commonly organic cold pressed coconut oil for a few minutes once or twice daily is called oil pulling


  • It is natural and free of chemicals.
  • Creates a biofilm which prevents plaque and disease-causing bacteria from causing decay on the teeth.


  • Cannot completely replace modern methods like brushing and flossing.
  • Limited effects but time-consuming practice.
  • Smell and taste can be quite overwhelming until you get used to it.

Mouthwash vs oil pulling: Which is better?

Dr Diksha says while both have their own sets of benefits and limitations, what suits one depends from person to person. Here are some factors to consider as per the expert.

Your decay profile: Each individual has a particular tendency to decay based on many factors like genetics and hygiene. If you are higher on the decay status then it’s advisable to rely on all the means be it ancient or modern.

Dentist recommended: What your dental care provider advises you based on your dental history might be the best option especially if it can control the recurrence of disease in your mouth.

Sustainable practice for you: To rely on a new trend or fad is not advisable. Ensure the practice that you choose is something you can continue in long term.

“Both techniques are adjunctive and not exclusive of each other. As a dentist I would recommend that while mouthwash is a safe and scientific proven modern regime, oil pulling can enhance your oral care if you use it in addition, combining the ancient benefits with cutting edge contemporary research,” concludes Dr Diksha.

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