Coconut oil seems to be popping up everywhere these days, and not just as a cooking ingredient. It also is commonly found in some cosmetic products, particularly where moisturizing properties are desired and beneficial. More and more, it is being suggested as a potential remedy for a range of illnesses and as a beneficial agent for maintaining overall health and well-being. It’s little surprise, then, since coconut oil is being suggested as a potential miracle cure for a range of illnesses and body woes that it is being suggested for certain dental and oral health issues as well. So, is there any truth to the hype? Given the significant discomforts caused by dry mouth and the potential for dry mouth to cause serious complications for oral health, it’s reasonable to look for an easy, natural cure for dry mouth. So, could coconut oil be part of that solution?
Dry Mouth is No Joke
It’s tempting to dismiss dry mouth as nothing more than a minor inconvenience. That’s not the case, though. Dry mouth wreaks havoc in the mouth. It deprives your teeth of saliva, which preserves tooth enamel by keeping it mineralized and also helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth. Dry mouth occurs more frequently as people get older and in people with certain medical conditions and autoimmune diseases. It’s also a common side effect of many medications, and the more medications you take, the more likely you are to suffer from dry mouth. Having dry mouth is a strong risk factor for developing dental caries (cavities) and should be taken seriously. Besides, having dry mouth is uncomfortable. You shouldn’t suffer needlessly from dry mouth when you have treatment options.
Is Coconut a Good Moisturizer?
The world of beauty products has considered this question. Coconut oil acts as an occlusant. That means that it forms a barrier on the skin that keeps moisture from evaporating. It’s not generally thought to act as a humectant—a substance that pulls water into the skin.
What About Coconut in the Mouth?
Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional practice originating in India, has a long tradition of using coconut oil for oral health. Proponents of oil pulling claim it improves a whole range of oral health factors, ranging from whiter teeth to more cavity resistant teeth. Given the interest in this traditional practice, there have been several studies looking at the action of coconut oil in the mouth. A 2015 study found that coconut oil in the mouth helped young men in the study reduce plaque and gingivitis and recommended it be considered as a supportive step in addition to standard dental hygiene practices. Lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid, has been found in a 1972 study, and more recently, in a 2011 study to have strong antimicrobial properties and be effective in reducing some of the bacteria associated with dental caries. Coconut oil is the best natural source of lauric acid. So, studies have suggested the potential for coconut oil to help as part of an oral care routine.
What About Dry Mouth?
There are plenty of anecdotal accounts of people who have achieved dry mouth relief with coconut oil, but there is a lack of scientific study on the subject. One clinical trial was started, but no results have been made available yet. If coconut oil seems to help, you might consider using it. Xylitol is an ingredient with a strong track record both for reducing harmful oral bacteria and combatting dry mouth. If you are seeking evidence-based dry mouth relief, you can try a xylitol chewing gum, knowing that plant-based xylitol is another option for dry mouth that can fit into your lifestyle.