Coconut oil could be the new weapon in the fight against tooth decay

While eating too many Bounty bars could take you to the dreaded dentists chair, latest research suggests that coconut oil could actually help to fight the main bug that is the cause of tooth decay. Scientists have tested coconut oil against the sugar loving bacterium known as streptococcus mutans which clings to the teeth and produces an acid that causes them to rot.

The scientists discovered that when coconut oil is treated with a digestive enzyme it turned into a powerful killer of unwelcome bugs in the mouth. The bacteria that it attacked included streptoccocus mutans, the acidic microbe that is the major cause of tooth decay. Researchers followed up on their previous work that showed how milk that partially digested made the streptoccocus mutans less able to stick to the enamel on the teeth.

They are now to conduct further studies into how coconut oil interacts with bacteria at a molecular level, and what other yeasts and microbe strains it could combat. Tests have already suggested that coconut oil that has been enzyme treated is harmful to Candida albcans, the yeast that causes thrush. The latest findings were presented at the Society for General Microbiology’s autumn meeting at the University of Warwick.

The lead researcher for the study was Dr Damien Brady, from the Republic of Ireland’s Athlone Institute of Technology, and he said that dental caries is a health problem that is commonly overlooked, despite it affecting between 60-90% of children and the vast majority of adults within industrialised countries.

He added that incorporating coconut oil that has been enzyme modified into dental hygiene products was a very attractive alternative to more chemical additives, especially seeing as it worked at pretty low concentrations.