Coconut oil has been in the news recently amid claims that it can help your general health, and your dental health, specifically that it can prevent tooth decay and gum disease. So, what is coconut oil? It’s an edible oil made from coconut meat and is a rich source of saturated fat. Unlike other saturated fats, coconut fat is made almost entirely from medium-chain triglycerides. Nearly 50% of coconut oil is made from a fatty acid called lauric acid and which your body can break down into something called monolaurin. Both these substances can kill harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi in the body.
A popular way to use coconut oil is a process called oil pulling and where the lauric acid in coconut oil attacks harmful bacteria in the mouth responsible for causing tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. You simply swish a tablespoon of the oil in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes before spitting it out, using it as a mouthwash. The fatty acids in the oil trap bacteria, helping to improve dental health. Oil pulling is a process that’s been used for thousands of years and is harmless, but please don’t use it as a substitute for regular tooth brushing and flossing.