Study Hall: Coconut oil may be good for your teeth

For Study Hall each week, we sort through the deluge of new medical studies and wordy white papers to bring you one that deserves your attention—in plain, healthy English.

teeth brushing

Turns out that your oil pulling practice may need a tech upgrade. According to a recent study presented at the Society for General Microbiology’s conference at the University of Warwick, coconut oil could be super beneficial to your pearly whites, but only when modified with enzymes.

The study: Researchers from Ireland’s Athlone Institute of Technology wanted to see if coconut oil could prevent Streptococcus bacteria from spreading through the mouth and causing tooth decay. They tested pure coconut oil and coconut oil modified with enzymes (similar to partially-digested coconut oil) to see if they stopped the bacteria from wreaking havoc.

The results: While the regular coconut oil didn’t stop the growth of Streptococcus, the enzyme-modified coconut oil did.

What it means:  The researchers believe that enzyme-modified coconut oil could potentially make its way into dental products in the near future, replacing the current common chemicals in your toothpaste—like triclosan—that you’re rightly afraid to swallow. —Allison Becker

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  1. January 14th, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Seems to me like some benefit could still be derived by standard oil pulling for extended durations (say 20 mins, which is often recommend). The enzyme breakdown researchers performed is said to resemble the breakdown one’s own body performs in the stomach during digestion. It seems possible then, that during an extended oil pulling the saliva produced in the mouth ends up breaking down the oil to its useful “treated” state. I’m not a researcher, and don’t really have hard evidence to support this theory, but it seems pretty plausible based on what I’ve read on the subject. Anyway, glad to see things like this being discussed!

  2. Stouffville Dental
    June 1st, 2013 at 4:28 am

    It seems like a great home treatment for whitening our teeth.

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