Can coconut oil reduce tooth decay?

A scientific team from the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland has suggested that tooth decay prevention could be added to the list of coconut oil’s benefits. In the ongoing effort to understand, treat, and hopefully defeat some of our most ominous oral health issues, the team from Ireland hopes to be able to incorporate their findings into commercial dental care products soon. Your Lake Forest dentist, Dr. James Fondriest, explores the findings and what they could mean for the future of dentistry.

What is Tooth Decay?

To understand the significance of the finding, you must first understand how a tooth decays in the first place. When you consume something acidic, or when the bacteria in your mouth produce acid by metabolizing sugars and carbs, these acids attack and weaken your tooth enamel, the strong protective layer around your teeth. Once enamel is weak enough, bacteria can slip past it and infect the tooth underneath. The tooth decay process begins with the demineralization of enamel, and if left unchecked, the infection can slowly destroy your tooth and spread to other teeth, as well.

How Coconut Oil Deters the Tooth Decay Process

The trick behind coconut oil’s apparent success as an oral hygiene product lies in its interactions with the bacteria Streptococcus mutans, which contributes to plaque formation, converts sugars and carbs into lactic acid, and is the number one microbial cause of tooth decay. During their research, the scientists in Ireland treated a batch of coconut oil with enzymes to mimic the process of digestion. Previously, partially digested foods have been shown to be active against micro-organisms. The enzyme treated coconut oil proved to significantly inhibit the growth of S. mutans, reducing the risk of tooth decay development.

A Healthy Mouth Waits for No One

Although the results of the study are promising, converting those results into actual dental products may take time. Until them, be sure to maintain your oral health the traditional way—brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day and attending your dental checkup at least once every six months. To learn more about protecting your oral health, contact Lake Forest Dental Arts to set up a consultation with Dr. Fondriest. Call our Lake Forest dentist office at 847-234-0517. We proudly serve patients from the surrounding Chicago-area communities.