Coconut oil has many well-know health benefits that make it a commonly used substance for cooking, skin care and almost everything in between. In fact, one study found that coconut oil may actually prove to be an effective replacement for toothpaste, both in terms of the effectiveness of its teeth cleaning abilities as well as its natural properties.
Coconut Oil Toothpaste
Coconut oil is well know to have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Recently, researchers at the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland found that these properties made coconut oil a healthy alternative to commercially sold toothpaste, which has been known to contain many questionable ingredients which can cause adverse side effects.
Researchers tested the effect that both regular coconut oil and partially digested coconut oil had on strains of the streptococcus bacteria, one which commonly inhabits the mouth, as well as candida albicans, a form of yeast that causes oral thrush.
The researchers found that partially digested coconut oil was incredibly effective at inhibiting the growth of both streptococcus as well as candida albicans. This shows that coconut oil is effective at cleaning the mouth and preventing the build up of harmful bacteria and fungus.
This makes coconut oil a promising replacement for typical toothpaste as coconut oil has not been shown to cause any adverse health effects in people who clean their mouth with it, something that cannot be said for toothpaste.
Commercial Toothpaste Side Effects
There have been several reports of mouth, teeth and gum irritation by people who use “regular” toothpaste, as well as severe allergic reactions. Allergic reactions caused by toothpaste include:
- Itching and swelling of the face, tongue and throat
- Severe dizziness
- Trouble breathing
Triclosan in Commercial Toothpaste
Triclosan is a broad-range antimicrobial that is added to toothpaste, as well as soaps and other personal care products. Originally added to reduce and prevent bacterial contamination, and to fight off bacteria that cause cavities, tooth decay, and gingivitis, we are learning that triclosan may have a dark side that isn’t worth the minimal benefits it offers.
Though most studies have currently only been done in animals, researchers have found that triclosan:
- decreases the levels of and alters the metabolism of thyroid hormones
- may cause the development of skin cancer after long-term exposure, as well as cause other skin irritations
- contributes to microbial resistance to antibiotics
- play a role in tumor development in the liver and elsewhere in the body
- cause endocrine disruption
- increase the incidence of allergies
Triclosan has been found in urine, plasma, and breast milk of humans, and there is also great concern over the impact that triclosan may have on the environment, specifically on the growth of aquatic plants and animals. There is currently a lack of knowledge of what affect accumulation of triclosan in both humans and the environment might have on our population and ecosystem.
Triclosan isn’t only found in toothpaste. Look out for triclosan on some dental health products, including Colgate Total®, Breeze™ Triclosan Mouthwash, Reach® Antibacterial Toothbrush, and Janina Diamond Whitening Toothpaste. You should also check your deodorants, cosmetics, soaps, and even first aid kits.
Fluoride in Toothpaste
Aside from these side effects, most commercial toothpastes contain high levels of fluoride which have been known to cause deformation of the teeth, especially in young children. These deformities include permanent staining which can range in color from light yellow to dark brown. Dental fluorosis can also cause pitting of the teeth, which is when the enamel wears away, compromising the physical structure of the teeth.
Coconut oil has not been reported to cause any side effects as severe as the ones noted above, and in fact has sometimes even been claimed to reduce irritation in the mouth. This makes it a much healthier alternative to commercial toothpaste.
How to Use Coconut Oil as Toothpaste
Using coconut oil as toothpaste can be as simple as lathering it on a tooth brush and brushing your teeth with it like you would with any other sort of toothpaste. However, some people don’t like the taste/texture of coconut oil on its own, and you can also add other natural ingredients to it to improve its taste.
Mixing in baking soda with coconut oil can give you a nice change in texture and will also improve its cleaning properties. This is because baking soda provides natural whitening properties and will also provide you with for friction when brushing your teeth, resulting and improved cleaning abilities.
If you don’t like the taste of your coconut toothpaste, you can always mix in some xylitol. This is a natural sweetener that will not only improve the taste of your toothpaste, but several studies have also associated it with prevention of cavities and tooth decay.
For more information on natural, healthy substances that you can use to improve your oral health, click here.
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