Coconut Oil and Dental Care | Oil Pulling

You’ve probably found this article after searching for information on the effects of coconut oil and dental plaque. Or maybe you want to learn how to use coconut oil for oil pulling? There is certainly a lot of buzz around at the moment surrounding the use of coconut oil for dental hygiene, but how much of it is correct? In this piece we look into the main areas that people are talking about today.

The five hot topics concerning coconut oil and dental care include:

  1. How effective is coconut oil pulling?
  2. How to use coconut oil for cavities
  3. Coconut oil’s effect on dental plaque
  4. Does coconut oil reverse tooth decay?
  5. How effective is coconut oil toothpaste?

#1 What Is Coconut Oil Pulling?

Coconut oil pulling is a method whereby you swish a tablespoon of coconut oil around in your mouth. Ideally, you need to do this for at least 10 minutes or longer if you can tolerate it. It’s a kind of oral detoxification process that removes bacteria and promotes healthier gums and teeth. Oil pulling has become a popular way for people to clean their oral cavity in the US, but it’s not a new technique. In India they call this ancient Ayurvedic dental technique ‘gundusha’ or ‘Kavala,’ and it’s been in use for many generations.

As you swish the oil around, you get to flush out toxins and other unwanted bits from their hiding places. The end result is not only a clean mouth but also one that leaves you with a nice antiseptic oral environment. It’s a great way to protect your mouth, gums and teeth from disease and cavities [1].

Does Oil Pulling Work?

You don’t have to use coconut oil, but coconut is the site’s main focus, so that’s what we’ll look at. There was one scientific study that researched the effects of oil-pulling using sesame oil, though the results should be the same or similar with other oils. The results saw an improvement in gingival scores, plaque (including plaque-induced gingivitis) and aerobic microorganisms. It helps because coconut oil is antimicrobial and so helps to remove the offending microbes. [2].

#2 Coconut Oil for Cavities

Using coconut oil for cavities means cavity prevention and protection, not cure. The way this works is by creating and maintaining a clean oral cavity by using the oil-pulling technique above. Coconut oil is particularly good at preventing cavities because it contains lauric acid. The lauric acid in coconut oil has strong antimicrobial actions. This just means it kills germs (microorganisms) or at least inhibits their growth. The bacterium responsible for tooth decay is Streptococcus mutans. When left unchecked, it thrives in the mouth and wreaks havoc with your teeth and gums [3].

#3 Coconut Oil and Dental Plaque

Though not easy to see, your tongue can certainly feel a high build-up of dental plaque on your teeth. Plaque is a soft, sometimes sticky film that forms on your teeth over time. It’s a problem because it contains millions of bacteria which can go on to make your teeth rot when left to fester. A good oral hygiene routine will ensure plaque doesn’t build up and cause problems. This would typically include brushing and flossing, though some scientists now say that flossing is a waste of time and does little to prevent tooth decay. You decide [4].

What the Science Says

There has been some research into the effect of coconut oil in plaque-related gingivitis (mild inflammation of the gums). The results indicate that oil swishing therapy does indeed have some benefits. After just seven days there was a significant reduction in the plaque build-up and gingivitis. These scores continued to fall for the duration of the short study [5].

#4 Does Coconut Oil Reverse Tooth Decay?

If you’re wondering whether coconut oil can reverse tooth decay, it depends. It’s one of those yes, no and maybe answers. The reason is because there are two types of tooth decay, namely:

  1. Decay of the tooth enamel
  2. Decay of the dentine (bony, dense tissue beneath the enamel)

So to answer the question, it all depends which of the two layers are showing signs of tooth decay. Regular coconut oil pulling (swishing) might help with the early onset of decay on the tooth enamel. Though to be honest, a trip to the dentist is most advisable as soon as you spot or suspect any cavities. A Fluoride varnish (concentrated type of fluoride) may be the best approach to stop the rot from progressing further.

There is some evidence to suggest that diet can—in some cases—reverse cavities and tooth decay in children. The British Medical Journal first published these findings in the 1930s, though the trial was small scale (just 62 children). The trial diet was rich in calcium and vitamin D [6]. Whether it’s possible to reverse tooth decay depends on the extent of the problem of course. Rot can certainly reach a point of no return (PONR). This PONR occurs when the nerves are dead or almost dead.

Prevention, Not Cure

By all means, practice oil pulling with coconut oil as a part of your oral hygiene routine. But don’t rely on it, or other diet foods to reverse any form of dental caries, no matter how slight. It’s better to use your coconut oil to prevent, not treat or try to cure problems with tooth decay. In the majority of cases, it is bad diet and poor oral hygiene that causes most instances of tooth decay.

#5 How Effective Is Coconut Oil Toothpaste?

We’ve already seen how effective coconut oil’s biocidal properties are against tooth decay. So what about using coconut oil as an ingredient in homemade toothpaste? Well, going by what we know, the evidence is there to suggest it makes the perfect ingredient for healthy, effective toothpaste. Obviously you won’t want to use the oil on its own as that’s not a practical way to brush. To make the paste, the best way is to add a few drops of oil to baking soda until you have the consistency you like. You can also add a little essential oil to give the paste a bit of flavor if you want to.

Better than Fluoride

For adults, fluoride toothpastes don’t usually pose any health risks, but it’s not the same for children. An overexposure of fluoride in a child’s early years (before the age of eight) can result in a condition called Dental fluorosis (a.k.a. mottled enamel). This causes something called hypomineralization of the tooth enamel. It’s basically a cosmetic defect that causes degrees of tooth discoloration. Kids are susceptible to fluoride ingestion because they tend to swallow toothpaste as they brush their teeth [7].

Dental fluorosis (mottling) occurs in the under eights because it’s a time when their teeth are still developing. Dental fluorosis aside, the benefits of natural coconut oil toothpaste still seem attractive compared to the more conventionaloptions. Here are the reasons why:

  • Void of harmful chemicals
  • Effective against the bacteria that causes cavities
  • Is free from foaming agents
  • Cheaper than conventional toothpastes
  • Easy to make[8]

And if you’re into a pet care, coconut toothpaste is great for your dog’s teeth too.

If you have anything to add, please leave your comments below, we’d love to hear from you.

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About Coconut Health

Hi, my name is Susan and over the past few years, stories on health especially natural ways to heal have fascinated me. This site was set up to explore the research, stories and health possibilities of coconuts. Feel free to contact me if you have suggestions, questions or to tell me your story!