Coconut oil is used in hair care and skin care products and now scientists are saying that it could be used in dental care products to fight tooth decay.
Researchers from the Athlone Institue of Technology in Ireland said that coconut oil treated with enzymes blocked the growth of the main cause of tooth decay, streptococcus bacteria.
Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in your mouth create acids that decay teeth, according to WebMD.com.
Bacteria feed on sugars in food, make acids and then the acids attack your teeth for at least 20 minutes after eating.
Tooth decay affects more than one-fourth of 2-5 years old in the United States and about half of all children have had decay, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The researchers tested the effects of coconut oil along with vegetable oil and olive oil. The oils were then treated with enzymes to create a process similar to digestion and tested against streptococcus bacteria, BBC reported.
According to the researchers, only the coconut oil treated with enzymes stopped the growth of most strains of streptococcus bacteria.
Coconut oil is made up of mostly saturated fats, but its 60 percent concentration of medium chain fatty acids is what makes it different from the other oils.
Also, when lauric acid, a fatty acid in the coconut oil, is digested it converts into monolaurin, which is helpful in fighting harmful bacteria, reported Organicfacts.net.
The ability of the enzymes to transform the coconut oil into an active acid was what was thought to stop the growth of the bacteria, but the enzyme-altered oil’s exact mechanism is unknown.
The properties of coconut oil make it a wonderful oil to cook with, nourish your hair and fight bacteria in your mouth. The possibilities are numerous with this oil and researchers are taking notice.
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Oral Health.Retrieved September 5, 2012.
Reviewed September 4, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith