Clove oil (eugenol extract) for toothache


Toothaches can be painful, especially if you can't get to the dentist's office right away. While some people will turn to over-the-counter local anesthetics like Orajel or Anbesol, others will go to the health food store to buy a bottle of clove oil , a natural remedy that has been used for centuries to treat toothaches. .

While it is safe when used correctly and can provide relief, there are limitations to its use and what you should know before using it or any medicinal oil.

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Popular in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine, cloves were once inserted whole into an infected cavity or used as a topical extract to relieve pain and inflammation.

In the early 1800s, the active ingredient Eugenium aromaticum was combined with magnesium oxide to create a temporary filler material. Since then, magnesium oxide has been replaced by zinc oxide to produce zinc oxide and eugenol (ZOE), a temporary filling cement that is still widely used in dentistry and endodontics.

Cloves are dried flower buds taken from a tree in the myrtle family. The oil is generally obtained by steam distillation; other manufacturers rely on chemical and boiling solvents to obtain the valuable oil. Depending on the method used, the refined oil can contain between 80% and 90% eugenol.

How does it work

Eugenol is the chemical that gives cloves their pungent aroma and pungent taste. When applied to fabrics, it creates a feeling of warmth that Chinese herbalists believe treats yang deficiency.

Clove oil works in a similar way to pepper, stimulating the production of a protein known as a transreceptor potential for vanilloid-1 (TRPV-1), which in turn desensitizes nerves near the skin's surface. It also has powerful antibacterial properties that can help heal and prevent infections.

Clove oil, which can be colorless or slightly yellowish, is often used in dentistry to treat dry socket pain after tooth extraction. It can provide short-term relief from toothache, but it is not necessary. Treat the underlying cause (such as an abscess, cavities, or a broken tooth).

While clove oil has been speculated to be as effective as benzocaine in treating toothaches, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) downgraded the eugenol evaluation, citing the lack evidence to support its use .


Clove oil should never be applied undiluted to the gums as it can cause irritation and poisoning. Instead, it's best to dilute it by adding two to three drops to a neutral carrier oil, such as olive oil or canola oil.

Then the oil preparation can be applied to the affected tissue with a cotton swab or swab. You can even leave the cotton ball for a few minutes to improve absorption.

When applied, you should feel a slight warming and a spicy powdery aftertaste. The numbing effect should be fully felt within 5 to 10 minutes. If necessary, you can reapply every two to three hours.

If you feel pain in multiple areas of your mouth after a dental procedure, you can add a few drops of clove oil to a teaspoon of coconut oil and stir in your mouth to coat it. (Do not swallow). People have also been known to apply crushed cloves directly to their gums, which taste disgusting to most people.

Side effects

While clove oil is considered safe when used correctly, it can become increasingly toxic if overused.

The most common side effect is tissue irritation, characterized by pain, swelling, redness, and a burning sensation (rather than heat). This may indicate that the concentration is too high or that you are particularly sensitive to eugenol. Do not continue treatment as this can lead to oral lesions (contact stomatitis).

Clove oil should not be taken orally. Animal studies have shown that it can damage the liver and cause the esophagus and stomach to thicken and harden. Stomach ulcers and kidney failure have also been observed.

Allergic reactions can be expected in approximately 2% of users. In most cases, these are mild, transient cases with localized rash, itching, swelling, and dandruff in the throat. Clove oil does not usually cause anaphylaxis.


If ingested in large amounts, clove oil can cause serious symptoms, including:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Hemoptysis
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Eat

Seek emergency medical attention if you accidentally swallow large amounts of clove oil. Keep the oil out of the reach of children to prevent them from accidentally swallowing it.

You should also avoid inhaling too much clove oil, which can cause respiratory symptoms such as a sore throat, cough, and shortness of breath. Long-term exposure can even increase the risk of lung infection (as evidenced in part by high infection rates and pulmonary edema in clove smokers) .


Clove oil should not be used for heavy bleeding as eugenol interferes with normal blood clotting. As such, it may not be suitable for people with bleeding disorders or those who take blood thinners like warfarin regularly. It should also be avoided before a dental procedure, as it can lead to excessive bleeding.

While clove oil is not regulated in the same way as pharmaceuticals, the FDA strongly advises against its use in children.


Clove oil has long been a proven remedy for many families, but not all. If you can't stand the taste or experience adverse symptoms, you can try other options, including:

  • Rinse your mouth with salt or ice water.
  • Apply diluted peppermint oil on the gums.
  • Press a wet mint tea bag against your gums
  • Apply a cold compress to your cheek.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol (acetaminophen)

Get the word of drug information

Whatever you do, don't use clove oil (or any other natural or pharmaceutical product) as a substitute for proper dental care. If your toothache persists or worsens, seek treatment to avoid potentially serious and costly complications.

If you are uninsured and finding it difficult to pay for dental care, you can find free and low-cost providers in your area using an online search engine operated by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

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