How Coconut Oil Might Combat Tooth Decay

By Dr. Mercola

Coconuts are among the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet and have been a dietary staple for millennia. Western science is now “playing catch-up” to what natives of tropical regions have known for thousands of years. One of the reasons coconut is so special is that it’s a natural antimicrobial food.

Coconut, especially its oil, is a powerful destroyer of all kinds of microbes, from viruses to bacteria to protozoa, many of which harm human health.

Researchers at the Athlone Institute of Technology’s Bioscience Research Institute in Ireland set out to test coconut oil’s biocidal properties against the bacteria responsible for tooth decay.

Dental caries is a commonly overlooked problem affecting 60 to 90 percent of children and the majority of adults in industrialized countries, according to chief researcher Dr. Damien Brady. His research team 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 your mouth.

They found that enzyme-modified coconut oil strongly inhibits the growth of most strains of Streptococcus bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans, an acid-producing bacterium that is a major cause of tooth decay. It is thought that the breaking down of the fatty coconut oil by the enzymes turns it into acids, which are toxic to certain bacteria. Enzyme-modified coconut oil was also harmful to the yeast Candida albicans, which can cause thrush.

Dr. Brady said:

“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.”

The work also contributes to our understanding of antibacterial activity in the human gut, which helps maintain the balanced flora necessary for a strong immune system.

“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,” explained Dr. Brady.

 

Source:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/12/08/coconut-oil-combats-tooth-decay.aspx