Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the fresh or dried meat of mature coconuts. Virgin coconut oil is made from fresh meat, while refined coconut oil is made from dried meat.
The high saturated fat found in coconut oil is ideal for high-temperature cooking as saturated fat retains its form in high temperature unlike polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oil, which turn toxic when exposed to high temperature. Although coconut oil is very high in saturated fat, it is touted to have many uses to improve health conditions, including increase good cholesterol, reduce stress, reduce blood sugar, moisture skin and improve dental health.
Other than being used as a food ingredient and for skincare, coconut oil is popularly used for the teeth to improve oral health and prevent tooth decay.
Ingredients In Coconut Oil That Help Improve Oral Health
Coconut oil is made up of 100% fat, of which up to 90% is saturated fat. Smaller molecules in the fat are called fatty acids and several types of fatty acids are found in coconut oil. Lauric acid is the main fatty acids found the coconut oil, making up about 47% of coconut oil. Lauric acid is known for its antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral properties. When we ingest lauric acid, our bodies will convert it into monolauric. Both lauric and monolauric acids have antibacterial properties and are effective for killing viruses, fungi and bacteria.
Harmful bacteria in the mouth cause bad breath, tooth decay and dental plaque can be neutralised by lauric acid. For this reason, oral hygiene products such as toothpaste and mouth rinse containing coconut oil are getting popular in demand.
How Coconut Oil Helps Prevent Tooth Decay?
Harmful bacteria in the mouth feed on food remains that are stuck on the teeth and in the process produce dental plaque. Gum disease, an inflammation of the gums is caused by the build-up of dental plaque. Gum disease if it is not treated will eventually lead to tooth loss.
The lauric acid in coconut oil attacks harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay. Thus, using toothpaste and mouth rinse containing coconut oil can help prevent tooth decay and tooth loss.
Ways To Use Coconut Oil For The Teeth
The following are ways to add coconut oil to your oral hygiene routine:
Coat a few inches of floss thread with coconut oil and use it as per normal.
Some people use coconut oil instead of commercial toothpaste to brush their teeth. This is possible for those who live in colder countries where the coconut solidifies due to the cold temperature. However, it is difficult to use coconut oil alone to brush your teeth if you live in warmer climate places. But you can make your own toothpaste by mixing baking soda with a few drops of coconut oil.
Some commercial mouthwash has coconut added. But if you prefer not to use commercial products with harsh chemicals, you can make your own mouthwash by adding a few drops of coconut oil to a cup of water and use it as a mouth rinse.
Massage your gums with coconut oil to get rid of bacteria is found near the gumline. Massage the gums with coconut oil help to keep the gums healthy.
5. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling using coconut oil has become popular with some who believe that the oil pulling helps the neutralise bacteria in the mouth. By swishing a teaspoon of coconut oil in the mouth for about 20 minutes, it is believed to help to prevent tooth decay and whiten the teeth. However, there are no studies to prove that oil pulling using coconut oil helps to whiten the teeth.
Oral Hygiene Products That Use Coconut Oil
As the use of coconut oil for dental health became increasingly popular, manufacturers of oral health products have started to introduce several products containing coconut oil to meet the needs of the consumers. Some of the oral hygiene products with coconut oil are:
3. Whitening strips
4. Dental floss
Although a lot of these commercial products may contain organic ingredients such as virgin coconut oil, they may also contain many harmful ingredients such as fluoride, artificial sweeteners, carrageenan, sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), triclosan, propylene glycol and artificial colours.
Many people opt to use toothpaste that is made from natural ingredients without any chemicals or they make their own toothpaste.
A Natural Way To Healthy Teeth
As coconut oil has antibacterial properties, it has been touted as an ingredient to help prevent tooth decay, prevent receding gums and whiten teeth. There is some evidence to show that coconut oil is effective in reducing plaque formation that leads to gum disease. The study showed that coconut oil is safe to use and has minimal side effects, which can be used for oral health maintenance.¹ Therefore, using coconut oil in your daily health routine can get rid of harmful bacteria in your mouth and in the process prevent tooth decay, gum disease that leads to receding. However, there is insufficient research done to prove that coconut oil pulling helps to whiten teeth.
Coconut oil is not only effective in helping maintain your oral health, but it is also a natural ingredient that makes it a cheap way to upkeep your teeth and avoid expensive dental costs. So, why not add coconut oil to your toothpaste and mouth wash and see if it helps to improve your oral health. Although there is no scientific proof that coconut oil pulling helps to whiten teeth, there are some people who tried it and find that it does whiten teeth while there are others who find that it is not effective at all.
As coconut oil is a natural ingredient that has no side effect for most people, it is no harm to try it out and see if it is effective for you. If possible, opt for organic virgin coconut oil. A jar will last you for a long time and you can also use it for cooking or as a salad dressing. But here is a word of caution, consume in moderation as coconut oil is high in saturated fat and will raise the level of bad cholesterol and it is best to avoid if you have very cholesterol levels.