Coconut oil has been getting a lot of attention lately, and for good reason.
Recent research done at the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland studied the effects of several natural oils on common bacteria found in the mouth. To no surprise, coconut came out as most effective against bacteria.
Coconut Oil – The New Toothpaste
In their study, the scientists found that when coconut oil had been treated with digestive enzymes (just as it would be when ingested), the growth of Streptococcus mutans (a major cause of tooth decay) could be stopped.
Streptococcus mutans is an acid-producing bacteria that affects over 60-90% of children and majority of adults today, meaning that oral health is on a steep decline.
“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,” said lead researcher Dr Damien Brady, from the Athlone Institute of Technology in the Republic of Ireland.
The researchers are now wanting to look at how coconut oil interacts with Strep bacteria, and which other strains of harmful bacteria it can inhibit. They also want to look into the effects of digested products, such as coconut oil, on gut health.
“Our data suggests that products of human digestion show antimicrobial activity. This could have implications for how bacteria colonize the cells lining the digestive tract and for overall gut health,” said Dr Brady.
Coconut oil is also made almost entirely out of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are metabolized differently than long-chain fatty acids in most other foods, and are highly beneficial to the human body.
One MCT is lauric acid, which makes up almost 50% of coconut oil. In the body, lauric acid is broken down into monolaurin, both of which can kill harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses in the body. Lauric acid is likely the main means by which harmful bacteria in the mouth is eradicated.
Coconut Oil And Oral Health
There are two ways that I enjoy using coconut oil for good oral health. The first is oil-pulling, and the second is brushing my teeth with a coconut oil/baking soda mixture.
Oil pulling is incredibly beneficial for a variety of reasons. It can help reduce bad breath, prevents disease of the gums and mouth, whitens the teeth, improves skin conditions, alleviates migraines and headaches and improves hormone imbalance.
To oil pull, scoop 1-2 tsp. of coconut oil into the mouth and swish for 20 minutes. Spit the oil out in a trash can and do not swallow (otherwise you’ll be swallowing loads of toxins you worked so hard at removing). Rinse your mouth with warm water and brush your teeth using the recipe below.
Coconut Oil Toothpaste Recipe
This is my favourite all-natural toothpaste recipe. It leaves your mouth feeling fresh, and improves the quality of your teeth.
– 1/2 cup coconut oil
– 2 tbsp. aluminum-free baking soda
– 20 drops of peppermint essential oil
Melt the coconut oil and blend with other ingredients. Pour into a glass jar and let cool. Use as you would normal toothpaste.