At the Athlone Institute of Technology in Dublin Ireland, researchers may have found a natural antibiotic that one day may be added to toothpastes and other commercial dental care products to avert dental decay. The researchers from AIT presented their findings at the Society for General Microbiology’s autumn conference at the University of Warwick in early September of this year.
Led by Dr. Damien Brady, the AIT team studied the effects of digested coconut oil (versus coconut oil in its natural state) which apparently has antibacterial properties to attack some strains of Streptococcus, a common bacteria found in the mouth which promotes tooth decay.
Testing the coconut oil in its natural state and in its digested form, the scientists found that the digested coconut oil stopped most Streptococcus bacteria from propagating, including the important bacterial strain of Streptococcus mutans, a common bacteria that produces acids which cause cavities. Previous studies have found that partially-digested foodstuffs had the capability of destroying micro-organisms, including one study that revealed the reduction of Streptococcus mutans, a common bacterium which easily binds to tooth enamel, when enzyme-modified milk was introduced. According to experts, of all the oral streptococci, Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans) is the perhaps the most detrimental to healthy teeth and gums. This bacterium produces the “glue” (dextrans) that enables it and other bacteria to stick easily to tooth enamel and interacts with carbohydrates and sugars in our diets to produce tooth-decaying acid.
Not only did their research prove accurate, but they also conducted a few preliminary studies on enzyme-modified coconut oil and its effectiveness on Candida albicans, a common fungus that causes thrush (yeast infections). Moving forward, the scientists are also hoping their research into semi-digested coconut milk’s antimicrobial qualities will provide some benefit to the oral healthcare industry.
The scientists hope future research will illuminate the need for dental hygiene products that have fewer chemical additives. Since a recent report by the CDC has found that 50 percent of U.S. children between the ages of 12 to 15 have cavities, it is their hope that it can become a viable alternative since it works so well in lower concentrations. For more information on how you can manage your oral biology to have a clean, healthy mouth, please feel free to contact me at Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD at 248-356-8790.
Until next time,
Dr. Mark W. Langberg, DDS, MAGD