You've likely heard of the benefits of coconut oil many times before... it moisturises your skin, relieves a dry scalp, boosts your brain health, regulates your blood sugar and promotes weight loss. But here's one you probably haven't heard before...
According to a 2012 study presented at the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn Conference at the University of Warwick in the UK, coconut oil is also able to attack the bacteria in your mouth that causes tooth decay when you digest it.
Keep reading to learn how this “natural antibiotic”, as the scientists referred to the plant oil, can help you prevent tooth decay plus how to incorporate it into your dental care routine...
Scientists reveal that digesting coconut oil can help prevent tooth decay
The team of researchers from the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland analysed the antibacterial power of coconut oil in its natural state as well as coconut oil that had been treated with enzymes in a process similar to digestion.
The researchers tested both oils against strains of common strains of bacteria found in the mouth known as Streptococcus bacteria. What they concluded was that the coconut oil that was modified with enzymes strongly prevented the growth of most strains of this type of bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans, which is an acid-producing bacterium that is a common culprit of tooth decay.
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Previous studies have also found that coconut oil has dental health benefits
A body of previous research has proven that partially digested foodstuffs are active against micro-organisms. Earlier studies on enzyme-modified milk showed that it was able to decrease the binding of S. mutans to tooth enamel. This made researchers further investigate the effects of enzyme-modified foods on bacteria.
In the future researchers plan to examine how coconut oil interacts with Streptococcus bacteria on a molecular level. They also plan to find out which other strains of harmful yeasts and bacteria the oil is active against.
Additional researcher conducted by researchers at the Athlone Institute of Technology found that enzyme-modified coconut oil was also harmful to a type of yeast known as Candida albicans, which is known to cause thrush; a common vaginal infection caused by an overgrowth of yeasts in the bowel and may be present in other parts of the body such as the skin and mouth.
These researchers therefore believe that enzyme-modified coconut oil has the potential to be an antimicrobial, which dentists and oral surgeons alike may find interesting. Lead researcher Dr Damien Brady reported, “Dental caries is a commonly overlooked health problem affecting 60-90% of children and the majority of adults in industrialised countries.”
How to use coconut oil for oil pulling and prevent tooth decay
The best way to incorporate coconut oil into your dental care routine is by practising what’s known as oil pulling. All you need for oil pulling is extra virgin coconut oil. Here’s what to do:
Put one to two teaspoons of coconut oil into your mouth. You can add a few drops of essential oil such as peppermint to the mix as well if you like.
Swish the coconut oil around in your mouth for 10 to 20 minutes. The longer you swish it around, the better!
Spit the coconut oil out into a trashcan. Avoid spitting it into the sink as it can block the drain.
Rinse your mouth well with clean water and then brush your teeth using your regular toothpaste.
It’s as simple as that!
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