March 18, 2020

Can You Use Coconut Oil to Whiten Teeth?

By Ema Herrera

Today, more and more people are drawn toward using coconut oil to whiten teeth. The practice has gained traction thanks to green-living movement, in which people look for alternatives for conventional stuff they use on regular basis, from medications to personal hygiene.

Using coconut oil or other types of edible oil (in addition to coconut, sesame and sunflower oil have also been observed to be used) to whiten teeth is a practice known as oil pulling. It is achieved by applying the oil directly on the teeth and swishing it all over the mouth for at least 20 minutes. People choose to use coconut oil for this practice for a lot of reasons, chief among them are:

  • The practice doesn’t involve chemicals that are harmful for the body.
  • The practice doesn’t produce foam.
  • The practice doesn’t leave bad taste while other oils do.
  • The practice is effective in killing bad bacteria.
  • The practice is inexpensive, affordable, and easy to do.
  • The practice reduces inflammation; it also heals gum problems.
  • The practice soothes dry throat and improves cracked lips.
  • The practice gets rid of bad breath.
  • The practice strengthens gums and jaws.
  • The practice uses coconut oil, which is easy to get.

So, how do people choose to use coconut oil to whiten teeth? Teeth-whitening involves chemicals to bleach the teeth so they appear brighter and whiter. Coconut oil whitens teeth not by bleaching them. Lauric acid contained in the oil flushes plaque and bacteria off the system and as the two are the main contributors to teeth-staining, the teeth are significantly brighter in the process.

Half of the medium-chain fatty acids contained in the oil are lauric acid, which known for both its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Upon use, the oil reduces plaque and kills bad bacteria, leaving the mouth in a better state than it was before. The plaque you see on your teeth are created from a thin organic layer used by the bacteria to cling to the surface of the teeth, which, when builds up, leaves that stain on them.

However, is it enough a reason for you to choose coconut oil to whiten teeth? There is not strong enough evidence that supports the claim that coconut oil whitens teeth. It may get rid of plaque and bad bacteria from your oral cavity, preventing future staining. However, the resulting stains may not have any means to break off the surface of the teeth. The lauric acid content is not abrasive enough to peel those stains off the surface of the teeth.

Sure, your breath might be fresher after pulling the oil but the stains would be there still without something strong enough. Besides, this practice might subjective in nature. One may experience the practice in ways different from others. So while it may work for other people, it may not for you. Plus, if you overindulge, the amount of oil you ingest (ingesting the oil after swishing isn’t recommended, though) might be enough to cause diarrhea or upset your stomach.