A presentation given recently at the Society for General Microbiology’s autumn conference is the latest in a score of studies aimed at discovering unconventional methods of addressing cavity prevention. The study outlined the ways in which enzyme-modified, or digested, coconut oil might join the ranks in the war against tooth decay. Already known to be a general antibiotic when digested, coconut oil has now been revealed to destroy the bacteria that cause tooth decay, potentially opening doors for its future incorporation into dental products.
Enzyme-Modified Coconut Oil and Streptococcus mutans
Knowledgeable of coconut oil’s anti-bacterial qualities, researchers from the Athlone Institute of Technology set out to determine how the oil would fare against strains of Streptococcus bacteria specifically. Streptococcus commonly inhabits the human mouth, and the variation, S. mutans, produces acids that decay human teeth, causing cavities. The ability to kill off all or most of these bacteria would halt the production of these acids, saving teeth from their decaying effects, and from cavities.
Scientists tested both the natural and enzyme-modified forms of coconut oil. They found that the natural oil had few health effects, while the modified form stopped most Streptococcus bacteria from multiplying. The team was inspired to test coconut oil in this way after encountering a similar study in which oral exposure to enzyme-modified milk reduced the ability of S. mutans to bind with tooth enamel.
The Future of Coconut Oil
The team has continued to test modified coconut oil on other types of bacteria with favorable results. So far the oil has also been found to destroy Candida albicans, a yeast that causes thrush. Coconut oil’s anti-microbial qualities will likely lead to its incorporation into products for the oral healthcare industry that will help prevent cavities.
Protecting Yourself Against Tooth Decay
Coconut provides some excellent health benefits, but unfortunately enzyme-modified coconut oil is the only by-product known to have the positive effects listed above. Until products utilizing this knowledge are developed and released to the public, the best way to defend yourself against tooth decay is by brushing twice a day, flossing once, and keeping regular dental cleaning appointments with your South Austin dentist. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Steven Van Wicklen call (512)448-3131. We happily serve all patients in South Austin and surrounding communities.