Whenever you hear the term ‘coconut oil’ being mentioned, the first impression is obviously that of the applications of it that concern the hair. Coconut oil is used by many to ensure optimal hair growth and to provide the right amount of shine, smoothness, and strength to their locks.
However, you might be surprised to find out that there are certain “dental” uses of coconut oil as well!
Oral health is an often-neglected aspect of overall health, the importance of which cannot possibly be stressed enough. Correlations between oral health problems and diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and gum disease (in pregnant women) have been scientifically proven (1).
Therefore, maintaining optimal oral health is not just great for your mouth, but for the rest of your body as well, and coconut oil can help you do just that! Let’s try and understand the significance of coconut oil in terms of oral/dental health with the help of a few scientific pointers:
1. Antibacterial & Antifungal Properties
According to a research document by the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, coconut oil contains an antibacterial and antifungal component called ‘lauric acid’ (2).
Lauric acid, combined with other ‘medium chain fatty acids’ present in coconut oil, is said to have strong antibacterial properties that help in maintaining overall oral health. Coconut oil, therefore, is a potent antibiotic for all the nasty bacteria that could be causing issues in your mouth!
2. As Effective As Antibacterial Mouthwashes
As per a research paper by the Journal of International Society of Preventive and Community Dentistry presented in 2016, coconut oil has been proven to be as effective as mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine for reduction of Streptococcus mutans bacteria(3).
Streptococcus mutans is found in the mouth and is primarily responsible for tooth decay, cavities, etc. Swishing coconut oil in the mouth in a similar way to chlorhexidine-based mouthwashes helps in reducing Streptococcus mutans in the oral cavity, thus preventing tooth decay and ensuring optimal oral health.
3. Plaque Reduction
In a 2015 study by the Nigeria Medical Association, ‘coconut oil pulling,’ which refers to the process of swishing coconut oil in the mouth for a few minutes, has been suggested as being effective for plaque reduction (4).
Additionally, the study has also concluded that oil pulling with coconut oil can also decrease gingivitis caused by the incidence of plaque in the oral cavity.
Now that we’re familiar with the scientific benefits let’s try and understand how coconut oil can be used most effectively and efficiently to help overall oral health.
The terms ‘oil swishing’ and ‘oil pulling’ come from ancient Ayurvedic texts that not only provide clear directions for the methods of using coconut oil for optimal oral/dental health but also enlist their benefits.
These methods have been used for several generations, specifically in the Indian region, as a preventive measure for keeping oral diseases at bay.
Here is how you too can carry out the process of oil pulling and gift yourself great oral health!
- Timing: Oil pulling has to be done as the very first thing in the morning after you wake up. Make it a part of your daily routine – wake up and do it immediately, before anything else! You are not supposed to eat or drink anything before this.
- Quantity: Take about 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil in your mouth and swish it around your mouth for 10-20 minutes. 20 minutes is the usual recommended time for this activity.
- Process: Make sure that the swishing of coconut oil in your mouth is done properly. Try forcing it through the gaps between your teeth and make sure that it covers every part of the mouth properly. Don’t rinse or replace before the time is up.
- After Swishing: Spit out the coconut oil and rinse your mouth with either normal water or salt water. Once this is done, you move on to brushing your teeth normally.
Oil swishing/oil pulling is best done as a regular activity for a minimum of 4 times a week, although daily practice is highly recommended as well. Oil pulling is completely natural, absolutely healthy, and a great way to start your day.
Now that this ancient Ayurvedic remedy/preventive measure for oral health issues has received approval of the scientific community, there’s no reason for you to stay away from it. Get yourself some coconut oil and make it a part of your oral health regimen! You won’t regret it at all.