Can an ancient practice of rinsing the mouth with coconut oil beat commercial oral care products? Researchers have found that just one spoonful of coconut oil can clean your teeth and may help prevent tooth decay more effectively than brushing your teeth or rinsing the mouth with any conventional brand of mouthwash. Coconut oil supports dental health without exposure to fluoride and without any harmful side effects.
A key piece of research was published in 2012, coming from the Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT), where Ireland-based scientists examined the effects of natural and digested coconut oil on common strains of bacteria within the mouth. What they found was that not only did the coconut oil effectively inhibit a majority of the bacteria strains, but it was also particularly harmful to Streptococcus mutans and candida albicans.
Candida infection can lead to digestive issues as well, so this suggests that coconut oil may be of help for preventing overgrowth of harmful bacteria in both the mouth and the gut. The scientists looked closer at the effects of natural and digested coconut oil on common strains of bacteria within the mouth, including Streptococcus mutans, a major culprit associated with tooth decay. The team from AIT tested the antibacterial action of coconut oil in its natural state and coconut oil that had been treated with enzymes, in a process similar to digestion. The oils were tested against strains of Streptococcus bacteria which are common inhabitants of the mouth. They found that enzyme-modified coconut oil strongly inhibited the growth of most strains of Streptococcus bacteria including Streptococcus mutans – an acid-producing bacterium that is considered to be a major cause of tooth decay.
In their report, the researchers state that enzyme-modified coconut oil could be a desirable alternative to the chemicals found in most dental health care products. Lead researcher Dr. Brady said: “Dental caries is a commonly overlooked health problem affecting 60-90% of children and the majority of adults in industrialized countries. Incorporating enzyme-modified coconut oil into dental hygiene products would be an attractive alternative to chemical additives, particularly as it works at relatively low concentrations. Also, with increasing antibiotic resistance, it is important that we turn our attention to new ways to combat microbial infection.”
Using coconut oil for oral health has a long history, as “oil pulling” has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Coconut oil is an ideal oil to use for this purpose, as it effectively draws out and neutralizes bacteria while soothing and nourishing the gums. Many dental health professionals are now recognizing that this practice offers a great way to help reduce cavities and promote general health and well-being. Coconut oil is being touted for a variety of health benefits, and its ability to neutralize harmful bacteria is one of a variety of reasons why coconuts are one of nature’s best resources for nourishing the body.