The internet can be a fascinating place, full of fun facts and interesting ideas, but it can also be a source of misinformation. One trending piece of misinformation is the idea that people can regrow teeth with coconut oil. Although coconut oil as a substance isn't necessarily harmful, using it to replace professional treatment or advice from a dentist can be.
When trying to figure out the best way to care for your mouth, how can you sort out fact from fiction? If you're concerned about enamel erosion and the health of your teeth, here's what you need to know about coconut oil as it relates to oral care.
Facts About Tooth Enamel
Before seeking any kind of treatment for your teeth, it's important to first understand some basics about their anatomy. Your teeth are covered in a hard substance called enamel. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body. But being the hardest substance doesn't make it invincible. Plenty of things can harm your enamel, from biting down on a hard piece of food to drinking acidic beverages, such as soda and orange juice.
Another feature that makes tooth enamel unique is that it's not alive. When you break a bone, the living cells in the bone are able to trigger a regenerative process that helps the bone fuse back together, as the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons explains. That regenerative process doesn't happen with tooth enamel, as there are no living cells found in the enamel.
Why Do People Think They Can Regrow Teeth With Coconut Oil?
If enamel doesn't regrow or regenerate, where does the idea that you can use coconut oil to regrow teeth come from? One possible explanation might be that there's confusion between the concept of "remineralization" and "restoration." While you can't restore or replace lost enamel, you can help remineralize your tooth enamel. This process fortifies your existing enamel through products that contain fluoride and a calcium-rich diet.
So, where does coconut oil fit in? It doesn't contain calcium or fluoride, two minerals that have proven to help strengthen teeth. The misinformation about coconut oil's abilities might be related to a centuries-old tradition called oil pulling. Some people believe that rinsing your mouth with coconut oil helps eliminate plaque and bacteria buildup in the mouth, which can reduce the risk of tooth decay.
However, the American Dental Association (ADA) says that there are no trustworthy scientific studies to support the claims that oil pulling protects the mouth and teeth. Therefore, the ADA doesn't recommend using coconut oil as part of your oral hygiene practice.
Can Coconut Oil Help Your Teeth at All?
The National Institutes of Health explains that lauric acid, which is a major component of coconut oil, may have antibacterial properties. Even so, this does not support the notion that coconut oil can restore the enamel or regrow teeth. Coconut oil has also been credited with helping restore receding gums and whiten teeth, but these claims have also not been scientifically proven.
At the end of the day, if you want to protect your enamel and make sure your smile is as healthy as possible, you don't want to rely on unfounded claims about coconut oil to do the job. Implement a thorough oral care routine, instead. Brush your teeth at least twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste. To minimize erosion, don't use too much pressure when toothbrushing, and try to stick with a toothbrush that has soft bristles. If you are concerned about the health of your teeth or enamel erosion, make an appointment with your dentist. They can take a look at your mouth and recommend a course of treatment or a home oral care routine that will work best for you.