Coconut oil may be able to attack the bacteria that causes tooth decay.
A team from the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland tested the antibacterial action of coconut oil in its natural state and coconut oil that had been treated with enzymes. The oils were tested against strains of Streptococcus bacteria which are common inhabitants of the mouth. They found that enzyme-modified coconut oil strongly inhibited the growth of most strains of Streptococcus bacteria including Streptococcus mutans — an acid-producing bacterium that is know to be a major cause of tooth decay.
In the future the researchers plan to examine how coconut oil interacts with Streptococcus bacteria at the molecular level and which other strains of harmful bacteria and yeasts it is active against. The team also showed that the enzyme-modified coconut oil was harmful to the yeast Candida albicans which is known to cause thrush.
Dr Damien Brady who is leading the research says
“Dental caries is a commonly overlooked health problem affecting 60-90% of children and the majority of adults in industrialized countries. 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 research further showed that products of human digestion have some antimicrobial activity (hence why they treated the coconut oil with enzymes as well in the testing).
Source: AlphaGalileo Foundation http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=123571&CultureCode=en