Aim: The present study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of oil pulling therapy using virgin coconut oil (VCO) in reducing S. mutans counts, plaque, and gingival indices, and to compare it with the gold standard chlorhexidine. Materials and methods: Twenty subjects (study) using VCO and 20 subjects using chlorhexidine (control) visiting the outpatient department of periodontics in the institute were chosen for the study. The gingival and plaque indices (baseline) in both groups were recorded following which unstimulated whole saliva samples were collected by spit method and sent for microbial count. They were then provided either of the VCO/mouthwash to swish once daily. Three weeks post-intervention, the recording of indices was repeated for both groups along with the microbial count. Results: The mean values of gingival and plaque indices pre-and post-intervention showed a statistically significant reduction in the control population compared with the study group, while there was no statistically significant reduction in the bacterial count seen. The difference in the scores of plaque index pre-and post-intervention was more in control group while the difference in the gingival index was similar in both groups, but statistically insignificant. Conclusion: Virgin coconut oil may not be as effective as chlorhexidine in reducing plaque while it may be as effective as chlorhexidine in reducing gingival index. Clinical significance: In comparison with newer chemical oral hygiene aids, coconut oil could still be used as a traditional adjuvant to reduce gingivitis in addition to routine brushing.
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