Would you brush your teeth with coconut oil? I do, and here’s why. Research suggests that coconut oil helps prevent plaque and development of gum disease. And it works without added chemicals that are harmful to your body — and the environment. If you’re still not convinced, read on for more reasons why coconut oil toothpaste is better than the brand you’re using now.
It has no harmful chemicals
Some brands of conventional toothpaste contain an antibacterial chemical called triclosan. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that triclosan may alter hormone regulation and contribute to antibiotic resistance. Additionally, a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research suggests that triclosan exposure may even contribute to cancer. Dr. Mark Burhenne, Ask the Dentist, recommends avoiding any toothpaste with triclosan.
“Is even a potential risk worth it, when the health benefits seem to be small-to-none,” says Dr. Burhenne. “Absolutely not.” In comparison, the natural properties of coconut oil kill bacteria without requiring harmful chemicals.
It kills harmful bacteria
The lauric acid in coconut oil kills harmful bacteria in the mouth that can cause bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease, according to a study conducted by the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University. In addition, studies conducted at the College of Dental Sciences suggest that coconut oil is particularly effective at killing oral bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, which is a leading cause of tooth decay.
It has no foaming agents
Any toothpaste that foams generally contains surfactants such as sodium laurel sulfate (SLS). The problem with SLS is that it interferes with your taste buds, which is why conventional toothpaste tastes so bitter. SLS is also linked to painful canker sores, according to research published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine and should be avoided if you suffer from recurrent ulcers.
It’s safe for the environment
Unlike traditional toothpaste, coconut oil is safe for the environment. Sodium laurel sulfate, the chemical that makes toothpaste foam, negatively affects the environment. Depending on how SLS is manufactured, it may be contaminated with measurable amounts of 1,4-dioxane, suggests the David Suzuki Foundation, a possible human carcinogen which doesn’t easily degrade, meaning it can remain in the environment long after it has been rinsed down the drain.
It whitens your teeth
There’s a lot of talk on the Internet these days of how coconut oil effectively whitens teeth. Oil pulling is the reason why. This growing trend actually started thousands of years ago. By swishing coconut oil in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes and then spitting it out in the garbage — not the sink — it can remove harmful bacteria and plaque from your mouth, making your teeth whiter and brighter. Here’s how to whiten your teeth:
- Put one tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth
- Swish the oil in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes, pushing and pulling it between your teeth
- Spit out the oil into the trash because it can clog sink pipes
- Finally, brush your teeth
It doesn’t contain fluoride
More than 95 percent of the toothpaste sold in the United States contains fluoride. Using fluoride toothpaste, particularly during childhood, is linked to health risks. That’s why the FDA requires a poison warning on every tube of fluoride toothpaste sold in the United States.
Health risks include permanent tooth discoloration, stomach ailments, acute toxicity, skin rashes and impairment in glucose metabolism, according to Fluoride Alert. Fluoride is a toxic industrial waste product that is a poison to your body. Even in tiny amounts fluoride can induce symptoms of acute fluoride toxicity.
It prevents gingivitis
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums and develops when bacteria accumulate on the teeth. While it’s a non-destructive type of periodontal disease, if left untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a more serious condition that eventually leads to tooth loss according to Medical News Today. Using coconut oil toothpaste or coconut oil for “oil pulling” decreases plaque formation and plaque-induced gingivitis, suggests a study in the Nigerian Medical Journal.
It’s inexpensive and easy to make
Scoop your toothpaste with a toothbrush. Brush for two minutes and then rinse. For the record, brushing with coconut oil toothpaste and oil pulling should not replace routine dental visits. But it could replace conventional toothpaste.