Sinking Your Teeth Into the Truth: Does Coconut Oil for Teeth Work?
Over the last few years, coconut oil has garnered attention for many of its perceived health benefits. While some of these reports have faded, there is one that still persists.
Many people believe that coconut oil should be an important and effective part of your oral hygiene routine. It is supposed to whiten teeth, ward off bacteria, and have many other benefits.
So, just how many of these stories are true? Well, this is what this post is all about. By the time that you are through, you will know everything that you need to about coconut oil for teeth and gums.
The Origin of Vegetable Oil in Oral Health
If you imagine that the use of oil in oral health is a new trend, think again. In fact, it is derived from a process that was discovered in Ayurvedic texts.
As such, it is possible that using oil for your teeth and gums may be a tradition that is thousands of years old.
Back then, however, people relied on sesame oil and sunflower oil. Coconut oil has only been used in this practice more recently.
Coconut Oil Teeth Benefits – Are They Real?
Of course, since then, science has come a long way. Thus, let’s take a look at whether using coconut oil as a dental remedy actually does the trick.
The Impact of Coconut Oil on Plaque
One of the biggest dental issues people struggle with is dental plaque. Plaque is the thin layer of sticky film that forms on your teeth.
It is essentially a whole host of microbes stuck to your teeth. If the plaque isn’t removed properly, it can cause numerous oral health issues in the future.
This includes but isn’t limited to tartar, gingivitis, cavities, and gum infections. Thus, it is important to clean your teeth of plaque on a regular basis.
So, when it comes to this practice, how does coconut oil fare?
Well, a study was conducted to discover this. A group of 60 individuals was advised to swill oil in their mouths every day, for a period of 30 days. Each of the participants had been diagnosed with plaque-induced gingivitis.
At the end of the day, it was discovered that both levels of plaque, as well as gingivitis, had significantly decreased in all the subjects.
Interestingly enough, these effects aren’t just seen on real teeth, either. Another experiment analyzed the impact of coconut oil on plaque that had formed on dental implants.
Once again, the levels of plaque had significantly decreased in all the participants involved in the study.
This conclusively proves that coconut oil can help to prevent the build-up of plaque on your teeth.
The Antibacterial and Antifungal Effects of Coconut Oil
It has long been proven that coconut oil has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Therefore, it would make sense that the oil was effective against various kinds of bacteria in the mouth.
Still, you may be wondering just how operative coconut oil really was. What's more, when compared to traditional medications, how does this natural oil hold up?
Once again, the results are quite positive!
One of the studies considered the action of coconut oil against Streptococcus mutans, bacteria known for causing dental cavities.
It examined whether coconut oil was able to reduce the level of the bacteria. In addition, the study also compared how coconut oil fared against a commonly used treatment, chlorhexidine.
The experiment showed that coconut oil did do quite a bit to cut down on the population of bacteria in the mouth. What's more, its effects were comparable to that of chlorhexidine.
Another form of bacteria that may be present in the mouth is the Lactobacillus species. Yet another study pitched coconut oil and chlorhexidine against the microbes to determine which was more effective.
It was discovered that both coconut oil and chlorhexidine were nearly identical in reducing the population of bacteria in the mouth.
These results show that coconut oil can effectively work against a variety of bacteria present in the oral cavity.
Now, let’s take a look at how well coconut oil works against fungus:
One of the more common causes of childhood caries is the presence of a fungus known as Candida. When treated with coconut oil, the activity of the fungus significantly decreases, cutting down on the risk of future cavities.
To summarize, coconut oil can help to prevent both dental cavities as well as erosion due to acids.
The Truth About Coconut Oil Teeth Whitening
Interestingly enough, what really set off all the hoopla regarding coconut oil for teeth was its perceived whitening effects.
People believed that regularly using coconut on their teeth would help to remove stains and lighten them. So, does this theory hold up?
Unfortunately, this is one area in which coconut oil doesn’t appear to have any impact. A scientific study treated teeth with coconut oil to figure out whether it had any bleaching or lightening characteristics.
However, in the end, there was no change in the shade of the subjects’ teeth. Thus, it is unlikely that coconut oil can help to whiten your teeth.
How to Use Coconut Oil for Dental Hygiene
Now that you are aware that coconut oil can help improve your oral hygiene, you may be wondering how to use it. Well, for the purpose of dental hygiene, coconut oil can actually be used in several different ways.
The most common options are oil pulling, using a coconut toothpaste, and using mouthwash with coconut oil. Check out what the most effective avenues for you are.
Is Oil Pulling With Coconut Oil Effective?
One of the main ways people use coconut oil for their teeth is through oil pulling. The process behind it is relatively simple and is as follows:
- Step 1: Place a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth – make sure that you don’t swallow any of it.
- Step 2: Swish and swill the oil around in your mouth for around 15 to 20 minutes. If you are just starting out, you may want to do it for a shorter period of time so that your jaw doesn’t hurt.
- Step 3: Spit out the oil and rinse your mouth with water.
Of course, the main question is whether or not the oil pulling coconut oil method works. Well, in many of the studies mentioned above, oil pulling was actually involved.
Due to this, oil pulling with coconut oil is one of the most effective ways to keep your mouth healthy.
Should You Use Coconut Oil Toothpaste?
As there has been renewed interest in using coconut oil for your teeth, a number of brands have jumped aboard this trend.
Thus, you can now find dozens of different types of coconut oil toothpaste. So, is this is something you should try out for yourself? More importantly, will this type of toothpaste actually have a positive impact on your oral health?
Well, technically, there is no harm in using toothpaste that contains coconut oil. However, it is important to ensure that your coconut toothpaste contains the ingredients specified by the American Dental Association.
Only then can you guarantee that the toothpaste you are using will protect and maintain your overall oral health as a whole.
Therefore, in addition to coconut oil, you must also check for the following components:
- Fluoride containing compounds
- Active ingredients that reduce prevent enamel erosion, cut down on bad breath and help to prevent plaque and tartar build-up
Does Coconut Oil Mouthwash Work?
Another coconut oil-based product making waves is mouthwash. There are now more mouthwashes with this active ingredient than ever before.
If you do find one, it is worth stocking up. This is because there is scientific evidence to prove that mouthwashes containing coconut oil work very well.
These mouthwashes can help to get rid of bacteria that cause gingivitis and other dental problems. For the best benefits, look for a mouthwash that contains at least 12.5 percent coconut oil.
What You Should Know Before Using Coconut Oil
It is clear that coconut oil can definitely help to improve the condition of your teeth and gums. At the same time, it is just as important to be aware of the risks involved. On this note, here is some additional information that you should know before using coconut oil for your teeth:
Beware the Risk of Lipoid Pneumonia
Although rare, some experts have found that oil pulling has been associated with a condition known as lipoid pneumonia.
This form of pneumonia is caused by the inhalation or aspiration of an oily substance. The fat molecules enter the bronchial tree or lungs where it causes inflammation.
As such, you do need to be very careful when you are oil pulling. Only ever use a small amount of oil at any given time. You should also limit how long you swish the oil in your mouth.
Reported Cases of Digestive Issues
The above report also discovered that some people complained of an upset stomach after oil pulling. This could possibly be due to the increase in the level of fat absorbed by the body.
Such a reaction may also take place in individuals who have a sensitivity to coconut oil. Therefore, if you notice any digestive issues, stop using coconut oil as a dental remedy.
Coconut Oil Can’t Substitute Traditional Dental Care
You should never use coconut oil as your only method of tooth and gum care. To maintain your oral health, you will need to brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and visit a dentist annually.
Coconut oil should only ever be used as a secondary remedy.
If you have any dental issues such as plaque, gingivitis, or a cavity, it is best to contact a dentist right away.
In case you have any particular medical conditions or dental problems, check with your dentist first before using coconut oil on your teeth.
This concludes the examination into the benefits of coconut oil for teeth. You now know exactly how coconut oil can be beneficial and when you should stick to traditional dental practices. All of this information should make it much easier for you to maintain your oral health without any issues at all.
Riya Borah is a nutritionist educator and her job involves guiding people towards a healthier lifestyle. Growing up in India, Riya was aware of just how much coconut was used on a daily basis. This encouraged her to research the properties of this versatile drupe. It opened her eyes to both the limitation and possibilities of coconut. Her aim is to now educate as many people as possible about the best ways to utilize coconut in their own lives.
An Important Disclaimer
The information on this page should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult a doctor if you wish to consume any form of coconut regularly for the purpose of treating any condition or illness.