Forget fluoride -- try coconut instead

I have to admit I got a laugh out of a campaign for water fluoridation in Oregon that claims the "benefits" include a 25 percent reduction in tooth decay.

Are these folks easily impressed or what?

Twenty-five percent is not worth the risk of thinning bone, discolored teeth, and brain damage, especially since there are much safer and far more effective ways to get rid of tooth decay.

And now, one new study points to what could be the tastiest cavity-beater yet.

Coconut oil, one of the healthiest plant oils around, has long been recognized for its antimicrobial and antibacterial powers, especially in the stomach. That's because stomach enzymes break down the fatty acids, and the compound created by this process can kill bacteria.

The trick is unlocking that power without having to actually swallow the coconut oil first, and researchers accomplished that by treating the coconut oil with enzymes similar to the ones seen in digestion.

Then, they put this enzyme-treated coconut oil to the test against the Streptococcus bacteria.

Actually, it wasn't much of a test. The bacteria never really had a chance -- the enzyme-treated coconut oil wiped it out, including the acid-producing Streptococcus mutans strain that builds up inside the mouth and rots teeth.

The researchers carried out similar experiments with vegetable oil and olive oil, but only the coconut oil killed bacteria.

And for an encore, the enzyme-treated coconut oil also killed the yeast that causes thrush.

Of course, there's no way to get your hands on enzyme-treated coconut oil just yet without swallowing the oil yourself, and by then it's too late to expect it to kill off any bacteria clinging to your teeth.

But this definitely holds promise for toothpaste and mouthwash down the road... as long as they don't ruin it by combining it with fluoride.