Could Coconut Oil Save Your Smile?

big smileSome people love the taste of coconut, and coconut water has been a trendy drink in the last couple of years. But whether you love it on your German chocolate cake or can’t stand the stuff, recent research shows that coconut may have more than just taste benefits. Well, coconut oil, that is. According to a study from the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland, coconut oil’s antibacterial properties could spell good news for your smile and help you avoid cavities.

A team of researchers is presenting the research at the Society for General Microbiology’s Autumn Conference this year. They looked at what effect coconut oil had on the mouth when it came into contact with certain enzymes used in the digestive process. The results showed that the coconut oil reduced the growth of several strains of the Streptococcus bacteria, including a strain involved in tooth decay.

Tooth decay happens when bacteria create acids that wear away tooth enamel. One strain of Streptococcus bacteria — Streptococcus mutans — is a major player in the production of these acids.

Research had previously shown that other foods, such as milk, could possibly be used to fight micro-organisms. Researchers will now work to discover more about the interaction between enzyme-modified coconut oil and bacteria. Research has also shown a possible positive effect of the coconut oil on yeast bacteria, which could make it a good treatment for thrush (oral yeast infection).

What does this research mean for your smile? Well, for now more research is needed. These are just preliminary findings. However, this could lead to the development of oral health products that use coconut oil to help fight cavities. And for folks who like coconut (or just like all-natural healthcare products), that sure does sound pretty sweet.