Coconut oil attacks the bacteria behind tooth decay and could be used in dental care products, according to research.
Scientists found that coconut oil which had been treated with enzymes stopped the growth of Streptococcus bacteria - a major cause of tooth decay.
Tooth decay affects 60% to 90% of children in industralised countries.
Speaking at the Society for General Microbiology's conference, the Irish researchers say that coconut oil also attacks the yeast which causes thrush.
The research team from the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland tested the impact of coconut oil, vegetable oil and olive oil in their natural states and when treated with enzymes, in a process similar to digestion.
The oils were then tested against Streptococcus bacteria which are common inhabitants of the mouth.
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