Coconut oil, a natural antibiotic when digested, destroys the bacteria that cause tooth decay, researchers at the Athlone Institute of Technology, Ireland, reported at the Society for General Microbiology’s autumn conference at the University of Warwick, England. They added that the antibiotic component in digested coconut oil could be added to dental care products.
Dr Damien Brady and team set out to determine whether coconut oil might have antibacterial qualities at combating some strains of Streptococcus bacteria which commonly inhabit the human mouth and cause tooth decay. They tested the coconut oil in its natural and semi-digested state. They added enzymes so that the oil could be tested in a digested state.
The bacteria stick to the surface of the tooth and exists on certain types of carbohydrates. As it metabolizes sugars and other sources of energy, it produces an acid that damages teeth.
Although natural, undigested coconut oil appeared to have no impact, the scientists found that the digested oil stopped most Streptococcus bacteria from multiplying. Of particular interest was Streptococcus mutans, a type of bacterium which produces teeth-decaying acids.
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