Revitalizing Oral Health With Coconut Enzymes

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Overview

Did you know that your oral hygiene is important not only for your teeth but also for your general well-being? Good oral health is vital for maintaining the function of your teeth, improving your confidence and preventing other diseases such as oral cancer.1 Recently the use of coconut enzymes, the building blocks of coconut derivatives such as coconut oil, has been associated with the improvement of oral health.2 This might make coconut derivatives an additional component to improve your oral hygiene routine. 

Understanding oral health

The regular maintenance and upkeep of dental hygiene are considered the most preventative tools that can be used to minimise periodontal disease and maintain oral health.3 This will typically consist of daily brushing and flossing, in conjunction with regular dental checkups to remove the excess build-up of plaque and to inspect the condition of your oral health.3 It is important to maintain good oral health as poor dental hygiene has been associated with tooth decay, teeth loss, a decline in mental health and various other health concerns.4

What are coconut enzymes?

A way in which you can elevate your regular preventative oral routines is to incorporate coconut enzymes within your dental regimes. Coconut enzymes are the components of coconut derivatives, and the most common coconut derivative associated with oral use is coconut oil.2 Coconut oil is sourced from dried kernels of the coconut fruit, and is  widely accessible and a  cheap product. Coconut oil has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory substance within affordable healthcare and well-being maintenance.2

Uses of coconut enzymes in oral care 

Historically, coconut products have been utilised for centuries within oral care, initially recorded within Aruvedic texts.5 Due to the lauric acid present within coconut oil, the substance has potential anti-microbial properties, as the lauric acid can disrupt the cell membranes of the oral bacteria present, promoting the enzymatic breakdown of unwanted microbes such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichia coli.2,5  Furthermore, coconut oil may further benefit dental health by reducing the likelihood of bleeding gums, dry throat, bad breath, and cracked lips and potentially promoting natural teeth whitening.5

Coconut oil pulling 

The most common way to potentially incorporate coconut oil into your dental hygiene routine could be to practice oil pulling. This is the practice of swishing coconut oil in the mouth vigorously for roughly twenty minutes.6 Although there is no consistent evidence highlighting the mechanisms taking place during coconut oil pulling, it is assumed that coconut oil helps to loosen up the plaque on the surface of the tooth due to its high viscosity and antimicrobial properties.2 Therefore, if you have gingivitis (induced by plaque), then coconut oil pulling may decrease the plaque buildup on teeth, potentially helping treat gingivitis.6

Although coconut oil pulling has been utilised with the aim of improving dental hygiene, there may be several limitations to using the substance. To be an effective users must gargle the coconut oil vigorously in their mouths for a substantial period of time - 20 minutes.2 Anything less than 10 minutes may not be effective, and anything more than 20 minutes may promote the chances of reabsorbing toxins back into the mouth.2

Furthermore, oil pulling is a method that can be accomplished with various other oils while also achieving similar results. Other oils that can also be used for oil pulling include sunflower oil, palm oil and soybean oil.2 Therefore, it may not be necessary to use just coconut oil to accomplish the same beneficial results from oil pulling. However, if you are interested in the anti-microbial properties of coconut oil, then it may still be a better alternative to use coconut oil instead of other oils for your oral well-being.5

Other coconut oil derivatives to use in your dental regimen

If oil pulling does not seem like a consistently feasible option, it may be worth using other coconut derivatives within your oral routine to still benefit from the qualities of coconut-based products. Studies have shown that using coconut butter-based toothpaste may also be an alternative toothpaste product to use to promote good dental hygiene.7 A study has indicated that this has been a particularly effective and popular method among younger children for removing debris within the mouth and reducing the levels of plaque deposited.7

Alternatively, coconut oil may also be used as a simple mouthwash instead of oil pulling to experience some of the benefits of the method without having to swish the product for at least 20 minutes.7 A study indicated that compared to chlorhexidine-based mouthwashes, coconut oil was also an effective tool with similar antimicrobial properties.2 Furthermore, some studies has indicated the effectiveness of using coconut milk as a mouthwash, as it can positively impact the salivary pH of the mouth, acting as an affordable mouthwash substitute.8 However, the study is limited on the effectiveness of coconut milk as a mouthwash in comparison to traditional mouthwashes. Therefore it may be more effective to use coconut oil instead.2,8

Potential risks and considerations

There are no known major health risks of implementing coconut enzyme derivatives within your dental routine unless you are already allergic to coconuts or coconut-based products.2 Individuals who may have sensitivity to coconut-derived products are not recommended to implement these substances into their dental routines as they may exacerbate already present allergic reactions.2

Furthermore, it is important to note that coconut oil may clog drains if you pour it down the sink after oil pulling. Therefore, it is important to dispose of the used coconut oil safely if you choose to implement it within your dental hygiene routines.6

FAQs about coconut enzymes for oral health

Can I just use coconut oil to pull oil? 

Coconut oil is a commonly used substance for oil pulling. However, it is not just limited to that specific oil. You can use other edible oils such as soybean oil, corn oil or palm oil.2

Do I still need to floss my teeth if I am using coconut oil for oil pulling? 

Yes! Although coconut oil pulling may help remove some of the debris that remains in your mouth, it is not an effective substitution for flossing. It is still highly recommended by dentists to brush and floss your teeth regularly to see the most effective results from using coconut enzymes within your daily dental routine.2

What are the main benefits of using coconut enzymes for oral health?

A. Coconut enzymes such as coconut oil may promote the breakdown of plaque, create a whiter smile, minimise gum bleeding and reduce the likelihood of experiencing a dry throat and mouth.5

How can I dispose of the coconut oil I use for oil pulling? 

A. It is vital that any used coconut oil is disposed of safely and is not poured down any sink or drains, as it could clog your plumbing once it cools and hardens. Therefore, it is advised to dispose of it in other ways, such as collecting it in a bottle and throwing it in the bin.6

Summary

To summarise, coconut enzymes and their derivatives, such as coconut oil and coconut butter-based toothpaste, may be useful ingredients to implement within an already well-established dental hygiene routine to further improve oral health conditions.2

The ancient tradition of oil-pulling, deriving from ayurvedic medicine, is one of the most common forms of using coconut oil within dental hygiene.5 It is considered to have various benefits, particularly breaking down plaque, reducing bad breath, minimising gum bleeding and improving the general environment of the oral cavity.5

Although the use of coconut enzymes may be a great addition to already good oral hygiene routines, it is not recommended as a complete substitution for good oral health regimes 1. Coconut enzyme derivatives should be used in conjunction with an already established hygiene routine, which includes daily dental practices, such as brushing and flossing, whilst also routinely visiting the dentist for checkups 1.  But if all else is well, the use of coconut enzymes may be an effective, affordable and abundant tool that you can use to level up your oral health.2

References

  1. Tadin A, Poljak Guberina R, Domazet J, Gavic L. Oral hygiene practices and oral health knowledge among students in split, croatia. Healthcare (Basel) [Internet]. 2022 Feb 21 [cited 2023 Sep 21];10(2):406. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8872387/
  2. Seher F, Hosein M, Ahmed J. Role of coconut oil pulling on oral health – an overview. J Pak Dent Assoc [Internet]. 2018 Jul [cited 2023 Sep 21];27(03):94–9. Available from: http://www.jpda.com.pk/role-of-coconut-oil-pulling-on-oral-health-an-overview/
  3. Choo A, Delac DM, Messer LB. Oral hygiene measures and promotion: review and considerations. Aust Dent J. 2001 Sep;46(3):166–73.
  4. Tiwari T, Kelly A, Randall CL, Tranby E, Franstve-Hawley J. Association between mental health and oral health status and care utilization. Front Oral Health [Internet]. 2022 Feb 7 [cited 2023 Sep 21];2:732882. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8859414/
  5. Reddy. Effects of coconut oil on oral health status of patients with poor oral hygiene: Systematic review and meta-analysis [Internet]. [cited 2023 Sep 21]. Available from: https://www.jioh.org/article.asp?issn=0976-7428;year=2021;volume=13;issue=6;spage=519;epage=532;aulast=Reddy
  6. Peedikayil FC, Sreenivasan P, Narayanan A. Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis — A preliminary report. Niger Med J [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2023 Sep 21];56(2):143–7. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4382606/
  7. Mardiati E, Rikawarastuti R, Wiradona I. The effect of dental paste from coconut butter as a replacement to toothpaste on reducing debris index and plaque index in class 3 to 5 students in elementary school. Open Access Maced J Med Sci [Internet]. 2022 May 16 [cited 2023 Sep 21];10(D):184–9. Available from: https://oamjms.eu/index.php/mjms/article/view/8625
  8. Syrene B, Jean C, Kimberly C, Daneeka D. The effect of coconut milk on the salivary pH of the oral cavity [Internet] [Thesis]. [Philippines]: Cebu Doctors’ University; 2019. Available from: https://www.herdin.ph/index.php?view=research&cid=74161#:~:text=On%20the%20post%2Dtreatment%20with,by%200.91%20and%201.91%2C%20respectively.

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Jenetha Raveendran

Bachelor of Science - BS, Human Sciences, University College London

Jeney is a recent Human Sciences graduate with a versatile professional background. Her current role within the technology industry drives her to promote data-driven research and robust science literature. Regardless of currently working in a non-medical industry, she continues to follow her passion for healthcare in her free time by communicating science literature to the public. Her main interests are in women’s health and well-being. Her passion for women’s reproductive health is highlighted in her dissertation, which was devoted to understanding the complex challenges women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) face every day. She thrives to bring more value to this area of research by continuing to dissect women’s medical experiences regarding their reproductive health.

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