Since coconut oil is high in fat (It contains 90 percent saturated fat, as the Havard Medical School notes.), it often gets a bad reputation as an ingredient in food and drinks. Recently, however, coconut oil seems to have lost its "unhealthy" status as more and more people consider its benefits for oral health. Coconut toothpaste and other oral care products are on the market, and there's been renewed interest in the ancient practice of oil pulling, often using coconut oil.
Should you seek oral care products that contain coconut? Let's take a closer look.
How Can Coconut Help Your Oral Health?
In natural health circles, people are quick to praise the effects of coconut oil as well as lauric acid, the natural acid it contains. While coconut might not be the miracle food people often make it out to be, there are studies that show that it may have some benefits when it comes to whole mouth health.
One study published in the Nigerian Medical Journal involved 60 students from the ages of 16 to 18, all of whom had plaque-induced gingivitis. Over the study period, the students added oil pulling to their current oral care routine (brushing twice a day and flossing once daily). Participants were evaluated over the course of the study and demonstrated a decrease in plaque and gingivitis starting from the seventh day. The study highlighted lauric acid's antimicrobial effects and concluded that coconut oil was "an easily usable, safe and cost-effective agent with minimal side effects which can be used as an adjuvant in oral hygiene maintenance."
Another review from the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine examined multiple studies that featured the use of coconut oil and oil pulling. (A few of the studies used a different type of oil like sesame or olive.) The review concluded that the use of coconut oil may improve oral hygiene, as long as the coconut oil is used as an additional therapy and not as a replacement for dental care.
If you're interested in the health benefits of coconut, the thing to keep in mind is that it can be helpful to use it in addition to, not instead of, your current oral care routine.
Should You Make Your Own Coconut Toothpaste?
Some people are so jazzed about coconut that they've decided to make their own oral care products with it. You don't have to look very far to find recipes for making your own toothpaste with coconut oil. Besides coconut oil, many online recipes include ingredients like baking soda, bentonite clay, and peppermint or citrus essential oils. You can make enough to fill a reusable jar or a small batch for just a few brushing sessions.
Although it's pretty easy to whip up your own coconut toothpaste concoction, it's worth remembering that you'll be missing out on some of the beneficial ingredients found in store-bought toothpaste, such as fluoride, a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the risk of dental decay.
If you're not the DIY-type, you might have noticed a variety of oral care products on store shelves that contain coconut or coconut oil. If you're interested in trying them out, it's a good idea to talk to your dentist first. They can recommend the best type of coconut toothpaste, mouthwash