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Coconut Oil Treats Tooth Decay

Coconut Oil Treats Tooth Decay

Enzyme modified coconut oil fights tooth decay…

Irish researchers have discovered that modified coconut oil can be used as an effective treatment for tooth decay. The findings could help scientists develop new preventative measures to combat cavities.

The study, conducted by team from the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland, looked into how coconut oil, vegetable oil and olive oil, when treated with digestive enzymes, affected the growth of bacteria in the mouth.

They found that coconut oil not only attacked the Streptococcus mutans bacteria that cause cavities; it also inhibited the growth of yeast that causes thrush.

The researchers theorize that when the enzymes break down the fatty coconut oil, they turn into acids, which effectively fight bacteria.

coconut oil treats cavities 550x368 Coconut Oil Treats Tooth Decay

Enzyme-Modified Coconut Oil Fights The Bacteria Which Cause Tooth Decay

Image Credit: Robert Wetzlmayr, 2008.

The team hopes that the findings will pave the way for new methods to treat tooth decay – a condition that 60% to 90% of children in industralised countries.

The study carries on from previous research that found that enzyme-modified milk could stop Streptococcus mutans from binding to tooth enamel. The team says its next step will be to analyze exactly how the coconut oil interacts with bacteria on molecular level, and which other strains of bacteria it can inhibit.

Dr Damien Brady, who led the research at the Athlone Institute of Technology with Patricia Hughes, a Masters student, said coconut oil could be an attractive alternative to chemical additives, to which many bacteria and viruses quickly grow immune:

“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 team is also looking into the process of antibacterial activity in the human gut. Dr Brady.

“Our data suggests that products of human digestion show antimicrobial activity. This could have implications for how bacteria colonise the cells lining the digestive tract and for overall gut health,” said Dr Brady.

The findings were presented at the Society for General Microbiology’s conference.


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  1. Coconut oil could combat tooth decay. BBC, 09/03/2012.

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