Clove oil uses range from dulling pain and improving blood circulation to reducing inflammation and acne. One of the best-known clove oil uses is helping combat dental problems, such as toothaches.
Even mainstream toothpaste makers, such as Colgate, agree that this can oil has some impressive abilities when it comes to supporting the help of your teeth, gums and mouth.
It’s been shown to act as a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reducer, in addition to having broad-spectrum antimicrobial/cleaning effects that extend to the skin and beyond.
Where Does Clove Oil Come From?
Cloves are popular in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. They were once inserted whole into an infected cavity or applied as a topical extract to relieve pain and inflammation from a tooth. By the early 19th century, the active ingredient in cloves, Eugenium aromaticum, was combined with magnesium oxide to create a temporary material to fill teeth.
Since then, magnesium oxide was replaced by zinc oxide. Today, zinc oxide eugenol (ZOE) is a temporary filling cement used in dentistry and endodontics. Cloves are dried flower buds taken from a tree of the Myrtaceae family.
Clove oil is usually extracted by using a process called steam distillation. Other clove oil producers rely on chemical solvents and boiling to get the oil. Depending on the method used, refined clove oil can contain anywhere from 80% to 90% eugenol.
How Clove Oil Works For Toothaches
Eugenol is the chemical that gives clove its spicy scent and pungent flavor. When it’s put on tissues, it creates a warming sensation that Chinese herbalists believe treats yang deficiencies. Clove oil works similarly to capsicum in peppers by stimulating the production of a protein called trans receptor potential vanilloid-1 (TRPV-1).
When it’s activated, the protein desensitizes nerve endings near the surface of the skin. It also has strong antibacterial properties that can help with healing and prevent infections. Clove oil can be colorless or have a slightly yellowish tinge. It’s often used in dentistry to treat pain from a condition called dry socket that can happen when a tooth is taken out.
Clove oil may offer short-term relief of tooth pain but does not treat the underlying cause (such as an abscess, tooth decay, or a tooth fracture). Some studies have suggested that clove oil is just as effective as medications like benzocaine for treating toothache, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that there is not enough evidence to support its use.
Clove Decreases Pain And Swelling
Eugenol is the ingredient within clove oil that provides pain relief. It’s the major constituent in the aromatic oil extracted from clove, accounting for between 70 percent and 90 percent of its volatile oil.
How can clove oil kill tooth nerve pain? It works by numbing the nerves in your mouth temporarily, lasting for about two to three hours, although it won’t necessarily solve an underlying issue, such as a cavity.
There’s reason to believe that the Chinese have been applying clove as a homeopathic remedy to ease toothache discomfort for over 2,000 years. While clove used to be ground and applied to the mouth, today clove essential oil is readily available and even more powerful due to its high concentration of eugenol and other compounds.
Clove is widely accepted as a reliable solution for dry socket and relieving the pain and discomfort associated with various dental disorders. The Journal of Dentistry, for instance, published a study demonstrating that clove essential oil had the same numbing effect as benzocaine, a topical agent commonly used before needle insertion.
Additionally, research suggests that clove oil has even more benefits for dental health. Researchers in charge of one study evaluated clove’s ability to slow tooth decalcification, or dental erosion, compared to eugenol, eugenyl-acetate, fluoride and a control group.
Not only did clove oil lead the pack by significantly decreasing decalcification, but it was observed that it actually helped remineralize and strengthen teeth. It may also help inhibit cavity-causing organisms, acting as a preventative dental aid.
How to Use Clove Oil
Before you use clove oil, you need to dilute it. Clove oil should never be put on your gums undiluted because it can cause irritation and may lead to toxicity. Clove oil can be diluted by adding two to three drops to a neutral carrier oil, such as olive oil or canola oil.
Then, the oil preparation can be dabbed onto the affected area with a cotton ball or swab. You can actually keep the cotton ball in place for several minutes to help it absorb better. Once you put the clove oil on, you should feel a slight warming sensation and taste a strong, gun-powdery flavor. The numbing effect is usually fully felt within five to 10 minutes.
You can reapply the clove oil every two to three hours as needed. If you have more than one area of mouth pain after a dental procedure, you can add a few drops of clove oil to a teaspoon of coconut oil and swirl it in your mouth to coat it. Just be careful that you do not swallow it. Some people apply ground cloves directly to their gums; however, the taste is not very pleasant.
Side Effects of Clove Oil
Clove oil is considered safe if used appropriately, but it can be toxic if you use too much or use it too often. The most common side effect of clove oil is tissue irritation that causes symptoms like pain, swelling, redness, and a burning (rather than warming) sensation.
If you have these symptoms after using clove oil, it might be because the concentration is too high or you are sensitive to eugenol. Do not keep using the treatment because it could cause lesions to form in your mouth(contact stomatitis).
You should never drink or eat clove oil. Animal studies have shown that ingesting clove oil can lead to liver damage and the thickening and hardening of esophageal and stomach tissue. Gastric ulcers and kidney impairment can also happen. Since clove oil can be toxic if it’s ingested, it’s important to store it where children and pets can’t get to it.
Allergic reactions to clove oil happen in about 2% of people who use it. Most cases are mild and don’t last long. People who are allergic to clove oil may get a localized rash, itching, swelling, and scratchy throat. Clove oil is generally not associated with a more severe, life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
You also should not inhale clove oil too much, as it can lead to respiratory symptoms like a sore throat, coughing, and shortness of breath. Long-term exposure to clove oil can increase the risk of lung infection. That might be one reason why there’s a high rate of infection and pulmonary edema in people who smoke clove cigarettes.
The health benefits of clove oil are vast and include supporting the health of your liver, skin and mouth. Here are some of the most common medicinal clove oil uses that are supported by research studies.
1. Supports Skin Health
Scientific research demonstrates that clove oil has the ability to effectively kill off both the planktonic cells and biofilms of a dangerous bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). What does this have to do with skin health and, more specifically, acne? S. aureus is one of several strains of bacteria that has been scientifically linked with the pathogenesis of acne.
2. Fights Candida
Another powerful effect of clove essential oil is fighting candida, which is an overgrowth of yeast. A study was conducted to see how clove fared against other antifungal treatments. It was observed that clove was as effective as nystatin, a drug commonly prescribed to manage yeast infections of the mouth (thrush), which can have a slew of ugly side effects.
Also, in addition to eliminating candida, clove essential oil seems to be helpful for killing intestinal parasites. To do a candida or parasite cleanse, you can take clove oil internally for two weeks, however it’s best to do this under supervision of a physician or nutritionist.
3. High Antioxidant Content
Second only to raw sumac bran, ground clove has the astounding ORAC value of 290,283 units. This means that, per gram, clove contains 30 times more antioxidants than blueberries, which have a value of 9,621.
In a nutshell, antioxidants are molecules that reverse the damage caused by free radicals, including cell death and cancer. Research shows that antioxidants slow aging, degeneration, and protect the body against bad bacteria and viruses.
4. Digestive Aid and Ulcer Helper
Clove oil use also extends to treatment of common complaints related to the digestive system, including indigestion, motion sickness, bloating and flatulence (accumulation of gas in the digestive tract).
Research also demonstrates that clove may be able to help when it comes to ulcer formation in the digestive system. One study found that it significantly enhanced gastric mucus production, which protects the lining of the digestive tract and prevents erosion that contributes to gastritis and ulcer formation.
5. Powerful Antibacterial
Clove has been shown to naturally combat harmful bacteria that can cause respiratory illnesses and other conditions. To evaluate its effectiveness as an antibacterial agent, researchers in one study set out to determine which bacteria are most sensitive to clove’s potency.
According to their study, clove has the greatest antimicrobial ability over E. coli and also exerted considerable control over Staph aureus, which causes acne, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which causes pneumonia.
6. Immune System Booster
Eugenol has been shown to have inhibitory effects on oxidative stress and inflammatory responses, thereby helping defend against chronic diseases. Recent evidence even indicates that clove has potential anticancer properties due to its major active component eugenol.
7. May Help Lower Blood Pressure and Boost Heart Health
If you’re struggling with high blood pressure, or hypertension, clove may be able to help. Studies conducted mostly on animals have revealed that eugenol seems able to dilate major arteries in the body while also reducing systemic blood pressure. Eugenol may be therapeutically useful as an antihypertensive agent.
8. Anti-inflammatory and Liver-Protective
Although it has been suspected for centuries to treat inflammatory conditions, the Journal of Immunotoxicology recently published the first study proving that the eugenol in oil of cloves is indeed a powerful anti-inflammatory.
This study demonstrates that low doses of eugenol can protect the liver against disease. It was also observed that eugenol reverses inflammation and cellular oxidation (which speeds the aging process).
In addition, researchers noted that taking large doses internally could harm the digestive lining, and using it externally can irritate sensitive skin. Thus, as with all essential oils, it’s important not to overdo it. Clove oil (and all essential oils) are extremely concentrated, so remember that a little truly goes a long way.
Alternatives To Clove Oil
Clove oil has long been a tried-and-true remedy but it’s not for everyone. If you can’t tolerate the taste of clove oil or it causes an allergic reaction or side effects, there are some other things that you can try to help with tooth pain:
- Rinsing your mouth with saltwater or ice water
- Dabbing diluted peppermint oil on your gums
- Pressing a moistened peppermint tea bag against your gums
- Placing a cold compress against your cheek
- Taking an OTC painkiller like Tylenol (acetaminophen)
Clove oil has been used for centuries to treat tooth pain. Dabbing a little bit of diluted oil on the gums may help with pain and inflammation because of the chemicals that the oil contains.
There haven’t been a lot of studies on the safety and effectiveness of using clove oil and the FDA advises caution since it’s not an approved treatment. You also should not use clove oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have bleeding problems. Kids also can’t use clove oil.
If you have a toothache, do not use clove oil or any other natural or pharmaceutical product as a substitute for dental care. If a toothache is not getting better or is getting worse, it’s important that you get treatment to prevent complications.
If you do not have insurance and are worried about paying for dental care, look for low-cost and no-cost providers in your area using the online locator that’s managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
READ MORE: Cloves Health Benefits