Coconut oil: Your answer to better oral health and whiter teeth?
You probably know oral health is important and you have likely heard coconut oil is a healthy fat to consume: It helps moisturize the skin, helps reduce your bad cholesterol and is associated with better brain function. (It’s also a great sun tan lotion, for the record).
But did you know, according to my friend, a dentist in Cincinatti, that coconut oil might also help improve your oral health? In fact, not only is it known to help prevent tooth decay, plaque build-up, gingivitis and keep bad breath at bay, it actually also cleans your teeth, and is even a natural teeth whitener.
How can this healthy fat made from medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) do all this?
Well, 50 percent of coconut oil is made from Lauric acid, which your body breaks into monolaurin. Both Lauric acid and monolaurin are able to kill unwanted things, like bacteria, viruses, and fungus. And in terms of maintaining good oral health, keeping bad bacteria away is incredibly important.
Two ways to include coconut oil in your oral health routine include oil pulling and through homemade coconut-oil infused toothpaste:
It started in India long ago, but basically, oil pulling involves swooshing coconut oil for 15 minutes or so in your mouth like you would do with mouthwash. As you’re doing this, think about pushing and pulling it between your teeth. This helps remove the bacteria and plaque from your mouth. Then brush your teeth afterward.
The pain reason for gum disease comes from a build-up of bacteria that turns into plaque, thus swooshing with coconut oil can go a long way in protecting your teeth against this bacteria that eventually turns to plaque, and potentially gum disease if not treated. There’s evidence oil pulling can make a difference to your oral health in just 30 days.
This 2016 study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5109859/) showed that after just 30 days, people experienced a significant decrease in Streptococcus mutans, the most common bacteria that contribute to tooth decay.
Meanwhile, this 2015 study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25838632) found a decrease in both plaque and gingivitis after just one week of coconut oil pulling.
Plaque build-up is also at the heart of why teeth become yellow or discolored, and hence why oil pulling is known to whiten teeth.
Coconut oil-infused toothpaste
You can actually make this yourself pretty easily by using 1/2 cup coconut oil, 2 tablespoons baking soda and a few drops of essential oil like peppermint oil, or cinnamon if you prefer.
All you do is heat the oil until it’s a liquid and then stir in baking soda until a paste forms, and then drop in 10 drops of oil or a pinch of cinnamon. From there, just use it the same way you would a normal toothpaste.
Give it a shot and report back in 30 days with your oral health, and tooth whitener, results.