The Use of Clove Oil in Dentistry

Natural Medicine and Dentistry

Close-Up Of Woman Suffering From Toothache Against Gray Background
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There is a distinctive smell that is often associated with your dental office. Some people love it; others are sadly reminded of a bad dental experience every time they get a whiff of it. What is responsible for the aroma? Chances are, you are smelling clove oil. Used in dentistry for over a century, clove oil is a very effective antiseptic that is known to help relieve dental pain.

Clove oil is generally used in dentistry to treat pain from a dry socket, as well as used in a number of temporary restorative materials. Because the aroma of the oil is very strong, clove oil often leaves a lingering, aromatic presence in the dental office. Clove oil can be found at most natural health stores and in some grocery stores.

Where Clove Oil Comes From

Cloves are dried buds from a tree in the Myrtaceae family. Primarily harvested in Indonesia, cloves were thought to first originate in Syria, when they were discovered in a ceramic pot by archaeologists who predict the cloves date back to 1721 BC.

The oil extracted from a clove is known as eugenol. Depending on where the oil is extracted from—either the bud, leaf, or stem—the concentration of eugenol generally ranges from 60 to 90 percent.

Considerations for Using Clove Oil

Clove oil, although natural, is known to be toxic in specific amounts, so people wishing to use the oil for dental pain should be cautious of the amount they are using at a time. Clove oil may cause soft tissue irritation, which may include:

  • A burning sensation in the tissue
  • Pain in the area where the oil was placed
  • Nerve damage

If ingested in larger quantities, clove oil may cause:

  • A sore throat
  • Vomiting
  • Kidney failure and/or damage to the liver
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing

Any of the above symptoms should be reported to your physician immediately.

People Who Should Not Use Oral Clove Oil

Using clove oil as a dental pain reliever isn't for everyone. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't regulate herbs but gives these precautions.

  • Children: it is likely unsafe for children to take clove oil by mouth. Don't use clove oil for childhood toothaches.
  • People with bleeding disorders should not use clove oil, as it is known to cause increased bleeding.
  • Avoid oral clove oil for two weeks before surgery due to its effects on reducing blood clotting, which could lead to bleeding.
  • Be careful if you use other medications or supplements that also reduce blood clotting.

How to Use Clove Oil for Toothache

If you are an adult with a toothache and you do not have a bleeding disorder or scheduled surgery, here is how clove oil might be used for temporary relief of tooth pain. Place two to three drops of the oil in a clean, small container. Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. This mixture will prevent any soft tissue irritation that is common when using clove oil on its own.

Soak a small piece of cotton in the oil mixture until it is saturated. Blot the cotton on a piece of tissue to remove the excess oil before placing the cotton in your mouth. Using a clean pair of tweezers, hold the cotton on the painful area for 10 seconds, making sure you do not swallow any of the oil. Once complete, rinse your mouth with saline solution. This step may be repeated two to three times daily.

Always see your dentist if the pain from a toothache persists. Clove oil should only be used as a temporary way to relieve pain from a toothache. Your best pain remedy is to see your dentist.

View Article Sources
  • The National Institute of Health. Clove. MedlinePlus.