Many of our customers regularly ask us about the effectiveness of coconut oil for oral health, and whether they should use it as part of their oral care practice, so, we decided to scope it out for you guys!
This versatile ‘superfood’ has made quite a name for itself in the world of health and well-being, with its ongoing list of impressive health benefits, but let’s take a look at how it specifically benefits our oral health.
What is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is an edible, fatty oil obtained from the flesh of a coconut, and is one of the richest sources of saturated fats in the world! Coconut oil is different to other fats because it is made almost entirely of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) as opposed to long chain triglycerides (LCTs).
MCTs literally act as a super fuel for your cells and are metabolized a lot more quickly by the body than the LCTs found in most other fats. The result of this sped up metabolic process is that instead of being stored as fat, the calories containing MCTs are efficiently converted into fuel for immediate use by the brain, muscles and other organs.
About 50% of coconut oil is made up of lauric acid – the all-powerful, pathogen-killing, virus-fighting medium chain fatty acid – which is what gives coconut oil its fabulous reputation.
What makes lauric acid so effective at killing bacteria?
When lauric acid is ingested, the body converts it into monolaurin, a biologically active molecule, which exhibits antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Monolaurin disrupts the outer membranes of bacteria like fungus and viruses and destroys them!
Lauric acid and monolaurin significantly help to boost inflammatory responses, protect the body against invading pathogens, and are super effective at killing bacteria without destroying the beneficial bacteria.
So how is coconut oil effective for oral health?
The lauric acid in coconut oil is particularly effective at killing certain groups of bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus, both of which are primarily responsible for tooth decay.
Streptococcus mutans is the most common organism responsible for causing cavities. This acid-producing bacteria initiates biofilm formation on the gum line and tooth surfaces and continues to secrete acid long after you’ve swallowed down your food. This acidic environment begins to break open the tooth so Streptococcus mutans can borrow in, resulting in the beginning stages of tooth decay.
Lactobacillus is a type of bacteria that usually live on the tongue and in your saliva. Once Streptococcus mutans has done the work to break open the tooth, Lactobacillus joins this bacteria breeding party, which contributes significantly to the deepening of lesions in the teeth and gums.
As spoken about in our article ‘How Your Gut Health And Oral Health Are Related’, if this ‘bad’ bacteria is then swallowed and carried down to the digestive tract, it can riddle the body with a whole variety of diseases.
As well as destroying bad bacteria in the mouth, the anti-inflammatory properties in coconut oil can significantly reduce inflammation associated with gum disease.
The best way to use coconut oil for oral health is by the method of oil pulling; an ancient technique that has been used in Ayurvedic practice for thousands of years.
Swishing coconut oil around in your mouth literally sucks out toxins from your mouth and detoxifies the oral cavity.
We recommend swishing about a tablespoon of coconut oil evenly over your teeth and gums for about 20 minutes or until the oil turns a thin, whitish consistency. Then spit.
Take a look at our article, ‘Ayurveda: The Ancient Practise That Zaps Away Toxins’, which explains more about the ancient practices of Ayurveda and their effect on oral health.
Whether you prefer to brush your teeth with coconut oil or use the method of oil pulling, we suggest you complete your mouth’s detoxification process with our all-natural, herbal tooth powder, which is packed full of vitamins and minerals and puts all the good nutrients back into your teeth and gums.
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