Fact Checked

Clove Oil for a Toothache: Does It Really Work?

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

December 14, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. James Younan, DDS

A toothache is discomfort felt in or around the tooth. Tooth pain is usually a symptom that something is amiss with your teeth or gums.

However, dental discomfort is sometimes transferred pain. That suggests the discomfort is being produced by something else in your body.

Toothaches should never be ignored. Toothaches caused by decay, loose or broken fillings or even gum irritation might worsen if not addressed.

Toothaches are seldom fatal, but they might be symptoms of severe illnesses that need prompt medical attention.

Clove Oil 101

Clove oil is an essential oil produced from the clove plant Syzygium aromaticum and is extensively used as a spice and in aromatherapy essential oils. Another area of attention has been its capacity to provide temporary pain relief dental discomfort. For almost a century, undiluted clove oil (eugenol) has been used as a component in professional dentistry products. Dentists worldwide use it in dental cements to temporarily ease toothaches.

What is the origin of clove oil?

Cloves are widely used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, also known as alternative medicine. They were originally placed whole into an infected cavity or used topically to ease tooth pain, sore gums, and inflammation.

Eugenium aromaticum, the active element in cloves, was mixed with magnesium oxide to form a temporary substance to fill teeth by the early nineteenth century.

Zinc oxide has since taken the position of magnesium oxide. Zinc oxide eugenol (ZOE) is now employed as a temporary filling cement in dentistry by mainstream medical doctors and endodontics.

Cloves are dried flower buds from the Myrtaceae family of trees. Clove oil is typically extracted by a technique known as steam distillation from ground cloves. Other clove oil companies extract the oil using chemical solvents and boiling.

Concentrated clove oil can contain anywhere from 80% to 90% eugenol, depending on the technique employed.

Is Clove Oil Effective for Tooth Pain?

The active element in clove oil is eugenol. This is a completely natural anesthetic. Eugenol relieves toothaches by numbing and reducing discomfort.

Eugenol has anti-inflammatory effects as well. It may reduce edema and discomfort in the affected region.

According to research, eugenol is more efficient than other analgesics as a natural analgesic at relieving pain, reduce swelling, and infection for better wound healing.

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Participants in a randomized controlled clinical trial who used the eugenol-based clove gel also had faster wound healing than those who used a different therapy or none at all. 

However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States evaluates the efficacy of various therapies based on the available data.

The FDA recently lowered clove oil's categorization. According to the organization, there is insufficient data to demonstrate that clove oil is useful for toothache and that additional study is required.

How To Use Clove Oil To Get Rid Of A Toothache

Some individuals chew on fresh whole cloves or make a clove paste using clove powder to apply directly to their gums or teeth to relieve pain. When feasible, though, use pure clove oil instead.

Here's how to use clove oil to temporary relief of toothache and gum pain:

Because you don't want to apply concentrated essential oil straight to delicate skin (such your gums or the inside of your cheek), a carrier oil, such as olive oil, coconut oil, or something similar, is a safe alternative. Use the carrier oil as a basis (1/2 to 1 teaspoon is plenty) and then add a few drops of clove oil, completely blending it together.

Absorb the diluted oil with a cotton swab or cotton ball and apply it immediately to the painful region. If you prefer, soak the cotton ball in water and then place it in your mouth (directly over the painful tooth) for many minutes at a time, discarding it after each usage.

As required, repeat every several hours.

Root causes of toothaches

The most common causes of toothaches

The most prevalent cause of toothaches is tooth decay. An abscess can form if dental decay is not addressed. This is an infection in the pulp of your tooth or around your tooth.

If you suspect you have a tooth abscess, see your dentist straight soon. In rare situations, the infection might travel to your brain, posing a serious health risk.

An impacted tooth can also produce a toothache. This occurs when one of your teeth, typically a wisdom tooth, becomes lodged in your gum tissue or bone. As a result, it is unable to erupt or expand in.

The most common causes of transferred pain toothaches include

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection in the sinus cavity.

Sinusitis can cause discomfort in your upper teeth because the roots of your upper teeth are near to your sinuses.

Causes of transferred pain toothaches that are less prevalent

Toothaches can also be caused by heart disease and lung cancer. Toothache can be a warning sign of a heart attack in some circumstances.

Because of the position of your vagus nerve, heart and lung problems might produce dental pain. This nerve connects your brain to several organs throughout your body, including your heart and lungs. It goes through your mouth.

Rare causes of toothaches with transferred pain

Trigeminal and occipital neuralgia are painful neurological diseases caused by irritated or inflamed trigeminal and occipital nerves.

These nerves provide support to your head, face, and teeth. When they get inflamed, pain might radiate from your teeth.

Status of FDA approval

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has several clearance statuses for clove oil depending on its use.

Human intake clove oil

It has been approved by the FDA as a food for human consumption, with GRAS classification confirmed (Generally Recognized As Safe). As a result, it is a common food flavoring component in jellies, baked goods, non-alcoholic drinks, chewing gum, candies, puddings, relishes, and ice cream. It is a commonly used and popular spice.

In dental goods, eugenol (clove oil)

Eugenol is FDA-approved for use as a dental cement and a temporary tooth filling substance.

Some dental cements include eugenol and are used to cement dental crowns and bridges in place. The eugenol in the cement can relieve tooth discomfort while also having bacteriostatic and antimicrobial qualities.

Temporary filling substance for teeth. IRM, a common dental product, is frequently used as a sedative temporary tooth filling substance. After conducting a pulpotomy, which is the excision of the top segment of the nerve, dentists will place this immediately on top of an exposed dental nerve. After the surgery, the substance will usually quiet down the irritated nerve. This filler material serves as a stopgap until the patient completes the root canal and receives a permanent dental crown.

tongue cleanser

Clove Oil Side Effects

Clove oil is generally harmless when used properly, but it can be hazardous if used excessively or frequently.

Clove oil's most prevalent adverse effect is tissue irritation, which causes symptoms such as discomfort, swelling, redness, and a burning (rather than warming) feeling.

If you have these symptoms after using clove oil, it is possible that the concentration was too high or that you are sensitive to eugenol. Continue using the medicine since it may create lesions in your mouth (contact stomatitis).

Never consume or consume clove oil. Animal studies have revealed that eating clove oil can cause liver damage and esophageal and stomach tissue thickening and hardening. Gastric ulcers and renal damage are other possibilities.

Because clove oil is harmful if consumed, it should be kept out of reach of children and dogs.

Clove oil may cause allergic responses in roughly 2% of those who use it. The majority of instances are minor and do not persist long. Clove oil allergies can include a localized rash, itching, swelling, and a scratchy throat. Clove oil is not often linked to a more severe, life-threatening allergic response (anaphylaxis).

You should also avoid inhaling clove oil excessively because it can cause respiratory symptoms such as a sore throat, coughing, and shortness of breath.

Long-term clove oil exposure may raise the risk of lung infection. That might explain why those who smoke clove cigarettes have a greater likelihood of infection and pulmonary edema.

Other side effects can include:

  • breathing difficulties
  • burning throat
  • upset stomach
  • diarrhea

    Alternative Toothache Relief

    While clove oil has helped many people, it is not suitable for everyone, for example if you have an allergic reaction to clove gel for tooth pain. Fortunately, there are other toothache remedies to consider.

    Over-the-counter pain relievers may help provide temporary relief of the pain and reduce swelling associated with a toothache. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are examples of these drugs.

    Topical anesthetics, such as over-the-counter dental gel, can also help relieve toothache discomfort. This therapy, however, is not appropriate for children under the age of 12.

    Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water or ice water is another option. Applying diluted peppermint oil to your gums may also be beneficial. Some patients place a peppermint tea bag on their gums to give short pain relief.

    Dental discomfort can also be relieved by applying a cool compress to the cheek.

    The greatest approach to avoid a toothache is to maintain good oral hygiene. Reduce your consumption of sugary meals and beverages, and brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

    You should also floss everyday to clean between your teeth and get frequent dental checkups. It also helps if you don't smoke. These healthy dental practices also prevent you from bad breath and a variety of other common dental issues.

    When Should You Visit a Dentist for a Toothache?

    Clove oil can be used as a natural anesthetic for short pain relief. It could be powerful enough to relieve swelling and discomfort caused by a sensitive tooth.

    However, if your oral discomfort is the consequence of a more serious health problem, you must consult with your dentist. A cavity or a fractured tooth might cause your dental discomfort.

    If your toothache lasts longer than one or two days, you should see your dentist for expert medical guidance. If you ignore your toothache, it may intensify.

    The following are the most common causes of toothaches:

    • Tooth decay that results in cavities or holes in the tooth's hard surface
    • A broken tooth
    • Fillings that are loose or damaged
    • Gum recession
    • A bacterial infection causes a periapical abscess or pus near the end of the tooth.

      If the toothache is not addressed, it may get infected, resulting in much more dental discomfort. Your dentist will perform a physical examination to discover the source of a toothache. They may also recommend an X-ray.

      The therapy required is determined on the underlying cause.

      Treatment options include:

      • removing a decaying section and replacing it with a filler
      • removing and replacing missing or damaged fillings
      • Treating an infected tooth with a root canal

        The Decision

        The conclusion is that while clove oil may assist with a toothache, it may also be potentially harmful. It is authorized for dental pain alleviation in the United Kingdom but not in the United States. Although it is included in dental products in the United States, research have shown that at high quantities, it is poisonous and can cause tissue damage. As a result, when it comes into direct touch with a dental nerve, it can destroy it, which is not what you want. It is also fatal when administered in excessive doses to youngsters under the age of two.

        As a result, if you are an adult, you may attempt the oil to alleviate tooth pain, but if all else fails, seek expert medical care. A visit to the dentist is the safest option, and they can permanently relieve your tooth ache.


        Can you use clove oil directly on your teeth?

        While clove oil is generally harmless when applied to the skin, frequent usage within the mouth and on the gums might cause complications. Gum damage is one of the possible side effects, especially with undiluted clove oil. The center component of the tooth composed of connective tissue and cells is known as the pulp. A good idea is to dab a little on a cotton ball and lightly apply it to the area for tooth pain relief.

        How long does clove oil last for toothache?

        Allow the oil sit for 5 to 10 minutes before it starts working. Reapply every 2 to 3 hours for relief.

        How can clove oil help with toothache?

        Dip the tissue or cotton in the clove oil for a few seconds to absorb a few drops. Wipe the oil gently over the painful area of your gums. If you don't have any clove oil on hand, you may substitute a whole clove. Place the clove on the sore spot and leave it there until the pain subsides.

        What happens if you swallow clove oil?

        It is hazardous for humans ingesting clove oil in large amounts. Case studies involving the intake of hazardous doses of clove oil have been recorded (10-30 ml, or roughly 2-6 teaspoons). Agitation, loss of consciousness, and coma are all symptoms. Within hours of taking the essential oil, symptoms appeared.

        Does olive oil work for tooth pain?

        Olive oil can also help with inflammation and can help improve gum health. Coconut oil, or carrier oil, and almond oil are essential oils that have antiseptic effects and can also help. Using oil for gum health is known as oil pulling.