Clove Oil For Toothache: Is It Effective & Safe?

Herbal remedies have an obvious mass appeal because they’re cheap and presumed to be safe. Many people reach out for these when they’re experiencing pain in the gums. The most popular one of all is clove oil for toothache.

This natural remedy has been around for centuries and has been a part of Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. If you aren’t able to book a dentist appointment on an urgent basis and want fast relief from a toothache, you might consider using clove oil yourself. However, in some cases, it can be dangerous.

What Is A Clove? 

Clove – Syzygium aromaticum – is a tree that was once native to the Spice Islands or the Moluccas in Indonesia. However, now it’s grown in different parts of the world. The clove comes from the flower bud, but the oil can be extracted from different parts of the tree, including leaves, stems and flower buds. It has a pungent smell and may be colourless or slightly yellow. 

Most people have heard of cloves being used in different foods as a spice. However, it’s also added to hot beverages and cosmetics because it’s thought to help with acne and signs of ageing. Some people also use it for acidity and indigestion, so it has found a lot of uses. 

Why Clove Oil For Toothache Is Used? 

Clove oil contains eugenol, which is a natural anaesthetic. Its application can help relieve toothache temporarily, which is why it is used for that. Basically, it works by desensitising nerve endings close to the skin surface by stimulating the production of certain proteins. Additionally, research shows that clove oil has antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can also help. 

Other than helping with toothache, research shows that it might remineralize the tooth following dental erosion. It has also been used in different dental preparations like fillings and, at times, toothpastes for relieving pain. 

Does Clove Oil Work For Toothache?

Using clove oil may have the following benefits: 

  • Less pain
  • Reduction in swelling 
  • Less inflammation 
  • Numbing of the gum tissue (temporarily) 

Different researches have demonstrated that clove oil for toothache can do the above when applied topically. One study published in the Journal of Dentistry found that homemade clove gel might be just as effective as 20% benzocaine ( a topical local anaesthetic) for relieving pain. 

Another research published in the Journal of the British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons compared the effectiveness of 0.2% chlorhexidine gel and a clove paste in reducing the incidence of dry sockets following the extraction of wisdom teeth. 

After 7 days of application, it was found that 10% of the people in the control group and 2% of the people in the chlorhexidine group developed a dry socket. Surprisingly, no case of dry socket was reported in the group using clove paste. The study concluded that a clove paste might be even better than chlorhexidine. 

Despite that, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has downgraded the classification of eugenol to category III because more research is needed on the compound to support any of the claims being made on its behalf. According to the FDA, currently, there’s simply not enough evidence of it. The US National Library of Medicine (NLM) also states that there isn’t “enough reliable information” to determine if clove is even “helpful.” 

Is Clove Oil For Toothache Safe?

The clove oil applied topically for toothache is unsafe if it is ingested. High concentrations of clove oil can cause tissue injury, seizures, coma, and liver and kidney damage. It is especially not recommended for children and infants. At higher concentrations, eugenol has also been used as an insecticide, so you should be very careful even when using it for toothache. 

The US National Library of Medicine also warns that you shouldn’t use clove oil two weeks before surgery because it increases the risk of bleeding and affects blood sugar levels. So, it’s also not suitable for people who have bleeding disorders. 

NLM also states that there is not enough information from reliable sources to determine “an appropriate dose of clove.” It is also not known if larger amounts of clove are safe for use by pregnant or breastfeeding women. So, if you’re thinking about using it for toothache, make sure to talk to a medical professional first. 

Keep in mind that clove oil is not a “cure” for toothache by any means. It only provides temporary relief. Your toothache might be a result of a more serious dental problem like an abscess, crack in the filling, decay or fracture. You should not delay treatment because of clove oil.  

How To Use Clove Oil For Toothache? 

There are different ways in which you can use clove oil. These are as follows: 

Clove Oil With A Carrier Oil 

One way to use clove oil is to mix it with a carrier oil and apply it to the gum tissue in the affected area. The reason why a carrier oil is necessary is that on its own, clove oil can cause burning and irritation. To prepare the mixture of the two, you need to do the following: 

  • Pour 1 teaspoon coconut oil/almond oil or olive oil into a small bowl. 
  • To this, add a few drops of clove oil. 
  • Take a cotton ball or cotton bud and soak it into the mixture 
  • Swipe the gum tissue if it’s a cotton bud. If it’s a cotton ball, you can place it in the affected area and bite down on it (just to keep it in place). 
  • Let the oil sit for about 10-20 minutes. The clove oil will give you a warm and spicy taste. 
  • Afterwards, rinse your mouth with salt water. 
  • Do this after every 2 to 3 hours because that’s how long clove oil lasts for toothache. 

Whole Clove 

Place 1-3 whole cloves between healthy teeth close to the one that hurts. Let your saliva soften the cloves for a few minutes. Afterwards, bite on them to release the oils. Let the oil wash the affected area for 10-20 minutes. Rinse your mouth with salt water afterwards because you shouldn’t ingest the oil. 

Clove Paste 

You can DIY a clove paste at home for your toothache. For that, you need to do the following: 

  • Take a few whole cloves and grind them. 
  • In a bowl, add ⅛ teaspoon of the ground cloves. 
  • Pour ¼ teaspoon of olive oil into it and mix. 
  • Use a cotton ball or cotton bud to apply the paste.
  • Let it sit for 10-20 minutes, and then rinse your mouth with salt water. 

Clove Rinse 

You can also try gargling with clove water by preparing a rinse at home. For that, you’d need to do the following: 

  • Boil a few cloves in water. You can also boil some water and pour it into a jar with cloves in it. 
  • Let it cool and strain. 
  • Fill up a bottle with the water so it’s easy to use. 
  • Swish the clove rinse in the mouth and then spit it out. 

Where to Buy Clove Oil for Toothache? 

You can easily find clove oil in the health and beauty aisles of supermarkets and grocery stores. If they’re not there, you should look for them in the pharmacy area. Clove oil can also be found in a drug store, or you can simply buy one online. Before buying it, make sure that it is 100% clove oil, though. Keep in mind that you need a carrier oil with clove oil. If you don’t have one already, you can purchase it with clove oil. 

Can Clove Oil Make Toothache Worse?

Clove oil can worsen a toothache because it can cause damage to the: 

  • Gums 
  • Oral mucosa 
  • Tooth pulp (centre of the tooth) 

If you’re experiencing a burning sensation (instead of warmth) after the application of the oil, discontinue its use immediately. The same goes if you experience an allergic reaction to it, although those are rare. 

What Can You Use Instead of Clove Oil for Toothache? 

There are a few alternatives to clove oil for toothache that you can consider trying. These are as follows: 

Salt Water Rinse 

It is most commonly used when people experience different aches and pains in the mouth. In a glass of water, simply add 1 teaspoon of salt and mix. Gargle with the salt water and then spit it out. You can repeat this process after every few hours. Salt water can help reduce pain by bringing down the swelling. If you’re experiencing a toothache because something’s stuck somewhere, salt water rinse can also help dislodge it. 


Alcohol is antimicrobial and can also numb pain. So, it’s not just whiskey, but you can also use vodka or scotch to relieve toothache temporarily. You can soak a ball of cotton in the whiskey and press it between your teeth (gently). 

Vanilla Extract 

Another unconventional way to get rid of tooth pain at home is to use some vanilla extract (the original one). Vanilla extract can contain as much as 35% alcohol, which can help numb the pain. You can soak a ball of cotton into the vanilla extract and place it between your teeth. You can also use your finger to apply it to the gum tissue. 


Thyme essential oil also has antimicrobial properties. So, you can consider applying it to the affected tooth after diluting it. You can mix equal parts of water and oil (a few drops only) to prepare the mixture. 

Cold Compress 

Placing a cold compress against your cheek can help minimise swelling inside your mouth. The swelling itself causes pain, so the use of a cold compress might reduce it a little. However, this measure is only temporary.  


Painkillers are one way to manage pain. However, you can also get a topical local anaesthetic gel from a pharmacy, which can help with the pain; Benzocaine, for instance. But it cannot be used on children younger than 2. 

Good Oral Hygiene 

It is possible that the reason behind your toothache is some food particle stuck between your teeth. You need to make sure that you’re brushing your teeth and flossing them before that. An antiseptic dental mouthwash can also help. 


Toothache can occur due to a variety of reasons. Clove oil for toothache can help temporarily, but it will not treat the underlying problem. Also, it has certain risks. No matter what kind of home remedy you’re using, you should always consult your dentist. If you’ve been experiencing toothache for more than 1-2 days, you should book an appointment with a dentist.

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