Researchers have found a new antibiotic to help resolve decaying tooth problem.

A new study suggests that coconut oil can be used as an antibiotic in dental care products to fight the bacteria that causes tooth decay.

Coconut oil is known as a natural antibiotic that provides several health benefits including dental care. In order to determine the antibacterial properties of coconut oil, experts led by  Dr Damien Brady from the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland tested the coconut oil in its natural stage and in its digested stage, wherein the coconut oil was treated with enzymes similar to the digestion process.

They tested the antibacterial effect of the coconut oil against strains of streptococcus bacteria which are found in the mouth, including the bacteria streptococcus mutans that majorly cause tooth decay in the mouth. While natural coconut oil did not have any impact on the bacteria, the oil in the digested state was seen to slow down the growth of the Streptococcus mutans bacteria.

Earlier studies have shown that enzyme-modified food can help to fight against micro-organisms, which provoked the researchers to test the effect of coconut oil. They found that the coconut oil was also harmful to another micro-organism, yeast Candida albicans. Researchers are further planning to test the coconut oil and other enzyme-modified products against other micro-organisms.

"Our data suggests that products of human digestion show antimicrobial activity. This could have implications for how bacteria colonize the cells lining the digestive tract and for overall gut health," Dr Brady said in a statement from the institute.

"Our research has shown that digested milk protein not only reduced the adherence of harmful bacteria to human intestinal cells but also prevented some of them from gaining entrance into the cell. We are currently researching coconut oil and other enzyme-modified foodstuffs to identify how they interfere with the way bacteria cause illness and disease," he said.

Experts suggested that enzyme-modified coconut oil could be used in dental care products to prevent microbial infection.

The findings of the study were presented at the Society for General Microbiology's autumn conference at the University of Warwick.