Coconut Oil For Toothache - The Verdict

Oil pulling has been used for thousands of years with many touted benefits. It works by pulling toxins out of your mouth, which allegedly prevents bad breath and fights gum disease.


Coconut oil is one of the most popular oils used for pulling and it does seem to improve gum health after consistent usage. However, does coconut oil work for a toothache and how do you use it? The purpose of this article is to explore whether or not it is effective.



Table of Contents:


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How to use coconut oil for a toothache

The wonderful thing about using coconut oil for tooth pain is that you don't need any extraneous supplies aside from a tub of coconut oil. If you don't already have some in your pantry, you can easily pick some up at your local market and it doesn't get any easier than that.


This is how you pull with coconut oil to relieve a toothache:

  1. Scoop about a tablespoon of the oil.

  2. Transfer it to your mouth.

  3. Swish it around for about 15-20 minutes.

  4. Try to tilt your head towards the side with the affected tooth.

  5. Do not swallow and spit it back out afterwards.

  6. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water.

  7. If you dislike the taste of the oil in your mouth, you can also brush your teeth.


Here is a video demonstrating how it is done:




Why would coconut oil work for a toothache?

A common source of tooth pain is caused by an overabundance of bacteria in the form of plaque attached to your teeth. Over time the plaque will harden and calcify into tartar. Both tartar and plaque when not removed will cause chronic inflammation with your gums, which may result in pain.


Since coconut oil is usually used as a mouth rinse via oil pulling, it has the ability to reduce the inflammation. It does so not only by physically removing the bacteria but also creating an inhospitable environment for them.


Physically removing bacteria by oil pulling

When you pull with coconut oil, you are essentially "pulling" the bacteria out of your mouth. Therefore it is technically true that the pulling effect works on bacteria since it does reduce the amount of them after using it.


However, that is not to say that rinsing with water or any other mouthwash won't give the same effect. All types of mouth rinses have the ability to physically remove bacteria and plaque if you rinse vigorously.


In regards to the oil pulling, there is one thing that we do want to point out and that is the alleged effect of pulling toxins out of the rest of your body. This ancient ayurvedic practice alleges that the mouth is connected to various organs in your body and by rinsing, you can remove toxins from the rest of your body.


This point has very limited evidence to support its statement and we also find it a bit far fetched as well. Although if you do have a study to support it, we would love to be proven wrong.


Creating an inhospitable environment for bacteria

Coconut oil has a slightly basic pH of 7-8, which creates a counter productive environment for bacteria to work in. The reason is because bacteria thrive in a low pH or acidic environment. It is also why cavities only start to form once the pH drops below 5.5, which is also known as the critical pH level.


Since the oil is slightly basic, it acts as a buffer solution by neutralizing the acidity in your mouth. Due to the fact that you typically oil pull for at least 15-20 minutes, that combined with the neutralizing property of it, makes it very effective in hampering bacterial activity.



Situations where coconut oil may help with tooth pain

The main benefit of using coconut oil is by removing bacteria and neutralizing acidity. Therefore, when it can help the most in alleviating a toothache is if the pain is triggered by bacteria or acidity.


Here are some examples of when the coconut oil may help:

  • Gum inflammation

  • Irrigation caused by lodged food

  • Teeth sensitivity from acidic, spicy, and sour foods



Why would coconut oil not work for a toothache?

When you pull with coconut oil, the majority of its effects are a result of physically contact with the oil. This means that it works the best if it is something external which is causing your toothache. However, this means that if something is causing you pain from inside of the tooth where the coconut oil cannot reach, it will be significantly less effect.


Examples of when it would not work for a toothache:

  • Tooth nerve pain

  • Abscess inside the tooth

  • Infection within the tooth

  • Infection deep within the gums where the oil cannot reach


Basically, if the source of your pain is in an area where the coconut oil cannot reach nor come into contact with, its efficacy will be limited. The examples listed above are more severe dental problems, infections, and nerve pain. In cases like these, it would be better to seek out a dentist instead of trying to use this home remedy.


Another reason why it doesn't offer much pain relief is that the oil is not an analgesic. It doesn't have any numbing properties even if you eat it. If it did, your throat would be numb if you cooked with it and ate any foods cooked in it. Thus, we're sure we don't need to convince you that that coconut oil is not a pain medication and you shouldn't try to use it as one.




The Verdict - Is coconut oil good for a toothache?

Based upon everything that was said above, our judgement is that coconut oil can be helpful for minor toothaches but only for certain conditions. It isn't harmful for you so if you wish to try using it as a home remedy, you can go ahead and do so. Our opinion is that it'll probably work the best if its a small minor gum problem.


However, if you're having any type of moderate to severe dental pain, the oil pulling probably will do very in terms of pain relief for you. The two major reasons why is that coconut oil works based on physical contact and also it has no numbing properties. If rinsing with it can't reach the source of the infection, it will have very little effect. Also trying to use it as a pain medication is futile since it does not possess such properties!


Nonetheless, if you're having any type of toothache, the best to always do is to seek a consultation with a dental professional. Problems do not go away on their own so it'd be best to have it addressed sooner rather than later. Most home remedies offer temporary pain relief so if you want a permanent solution you need to make an appointment with your dentist.


The unfortunate truth of dentistry that the solution to most problems usually require physical intervention. You can't do that over a virtual consultation and have it treated online.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!