If you Google for coconut oil benefits – you can find claims that include hair care benefits, skin care benefits, stress relief, cholesterol level maintenance, weight loss, boosted immune system, proper digestion and regulated metabolism. It is also claimed to provide relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV, and cancer, while helping to improve dental quality and bone strength. Wow – quite a list. These benefits of oil are being attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and their respective properties, such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, antibacterial and soothing qualities. In this article by Dr. Mercola. he provides a study that tested coconut oil’s biocidal properties against the bacteria responsible for tooth decay, the oil proved to be quite effective. There are so many claims, it is indeed difficult to get to the bottom of them – but over the years, Dr. Mercola has succeeded in separating the wheat from the chaff for some of them, including using the oil as toothpaste.
6 Reasons To Use Coconut Oil As Toothpaste
The action of coconut oil was tested in its natural state and after being treated with enzymes, in a process similar to digestion. The oils were tested against strains of Streptococcus bacteria, which are common inhabitants of your mouth.
They found that enzyme-modified coconut oil strongly inhibits the growth of most strains of Streptococcus bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans, an acid-producing bacterium that is a major cause of tooth decay. It is thought that the breaking down of the fatty coconut oil by the enzymes turns it into acids, which are toxic to certain bacteria. Chief researcher Dr. Damien Brady said:
“Incorporating enzyme-modified coconut oil into dental hygiene products would be an attractive alternative to chemical additives, particularly as it works at relatively low concentrations. Also, with increasing antibiotic resistance, it is important that we turn our attention to new ways to combat microbial infection.”
The 6 Reasons to Use Coconut Oil as Toothpaste
A case could be made that coconut oil has a near-perfect makeup to act as an effective toothpaste. Six top reasons, as reported by MindBodyGreen, include:
1. No Harmful Chemicals
Conventional toothpaste such as Colgate Total contains an antibacterial chemical called triclosan, which has been linked to concerns over antibiotic resistance and endocrine disruption.
Fluoride is another common chemical in conventional toothpaste. Fluoride is a toxic industrial waste product that is a poison to your body even in trace amounts…
2. Effective Against Cavity-Causing Bacteria
Research even shows that massaging coconut oil into your gums for about 10 minutes daily (continued for three weeks) significantly reduces decay-causing Streptococcus mutans as well as plaque.
3. No Foaming Agents
Many toothpastes also contain surfactants like sodium laurel sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES). Surfactants are chemicals responsible for the foaming action of the toothpaste, but they also interfere with the functioning of your taste buds by breaking up the phospholipids on your tongue.
It takes only a small amount of coconut oil to keep your teeth clean, and one jar can easily last you months, making it a very inexpensive toothpaste.
5. You Can Use It on Your Dog’s Teeth Too
While you wouldn’t want to brush your pets’ teeth with ordinary “human” toothpaste, coconut oil is effective and safe for dogs and humans alike. Applying it with a toothbrush would be best, but your pet may even get some oral health benefits just from licking a small amount of oil. The recipe below is not recommended for dogs. As noted, some ingredients that are fine for human consumption can be toxic for pets.
6. Simple to Make
Coconut oil toothpaste is simple to make with just a few ingredients:
Coconut oil Baking soda, which acts as an abrasive and helps with whitening Essential oils to give your toothpaste flavor and add additional therapeutic benefits. Peppermint oil extract, for instance, has been shown to be superior to the mouthwash chemical chlorhexidine in inhibiting the formation of biofilm formations linked to dental cavities.6 Erythritol, xylitol, or stevia (optional), which are natural sweeteners. Xylitol, in particular, has been linked to reductions in cavities.7 However, if you plan to give this toothpaste to your dog, do not include xylitol, as it is toxic to dogs. Salt Bentonite clay, which adds a paste-like consistency and may help draw out toxins from your gums and tongue
You Can Use Coconut Oil for Oil Pulling Too
Oil pulling involves ‘rinsing’ your mouth with coconut oil, much like you would with a mouthwash (except you shouldn’t attempt to gargle with it). The oil is “worked” around your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for about 10-15 minutes. When you’re first starting out, you may want to try it for just five minutes at a time.
This process allows the oil to “pull out” cavity-causing bacteria and other debris from your mouth. Once the oil turns thin and milky white, you’ll know it’s time to spit it out. However, oil pulling does appear to have a significant cleansing and healing effect, which is backed by science.
Why I Don’t Recommend Fluoridated Toothpaste
Fluoride has long been heralded as the answer to decaying teeth, but it’s been receiving increasing scrutiny in recent years, and for good reason. A groundbreaking study published in the journal Langmuir uncovered that the supposedly beneficial fluorapatite layer formed on your teeth from fluoride is a mere six nanometers thick.
To understand just how thin this is, you’d need 10,000 of these layers to get the width of a strand of your hair! Scientists now question whether this ultra-thin layer can actually protect your enamel and provide any discernible benefit, considering the fact that it is quickly eliminated by simple chewing.
Children are particularly at risk for adverse effects of overexposure. If you have a young child, therefore, it’s recommended that you use a non-fluoride toothpaste, although I recommend the same for adults as well.
A Comprehensive Approach to Improve Your Dental Health
Toothpaste containing natural ingredients, like baking soda, essential oils, xylitol, and others, appears to be more effective and safer than fluoride-containing toothpastes. There’s no reason to risk exposing yourself to fluoride or other dangerous chemicals like triclosan and sodium lauryl sulfate. Here are my basic guidelines for optimizing your dental health, safely and naturally:
- Coconut oil inhibits the growth of Streptococcus mutans, an acid-producing bacterium that is a major cause of tooth decay
- Natural toothpaste will be free of harmful ingredients like fluoride, triclosan, and sodium laureth sulfate (SLS)
Click here to read the entire post of Dr Mercola.
photo credit: Flickr/Chris Brown Coconut Tree