There was a time in my life when I was, well, broke. I had no dental insurance because I couldn’t afford what was offered at work, and chose not to use government programs. My choice, yours may be different – no shame is using a legal system legally. Anyway, I suffered quite a bit of dental problems and pain. My first experience with “essential oils” was a bottle of clove purchased off the shelf at the grocery or health-food store. I rubbed that oil directly on my gums, or dropped it in my mouth to “swish”. It worked OK, though nothing spectacular. And I always wound up getting antibiotics for the infection, which clove should have helped to prevent at least some of the time.
Fast-forward (redacted) years, and I now know better on a lot of levels. I know that the clove oil I got back then was not high quality. I know that you shouldn’t generally drop quality clove bud oil into your mouth unless you’re attempting a dragon impersonation. Even then, there are better ways. I also know the most effective methods for using clove to alleviate dental pain. At least, the most effective for me!
How Clove Relieves Pain
The main component of clove oil is eugenol. This gives clove the distinctive scent you smell in the dentist’s office. Yes, clove oil or eugenol is still used in modern dental offices! And you can have it at home – which can help you get through the night or weekend until your appointment. Or keep you from having to go at all, depending on your situation.
Anyway, eugenol is a proven and powerful anti-inflammatory. Consider it your OTC pain reliever, without so many warnings (there are some – we’ll get there). It also works like other “hot” oils, irritating the area so that the body sends greater pain-relieving response to the area. And this study published in the Journal of Dentistry shows clove oil worked as well as benzocaine gel to relieve dental pain in human trials. Beyond helping with the pain, clove oil is a powerful anti-bacterial and anti-viral oil. So with proper regular use, you might be able to really do some good!
How to Get it Where it Needs to Go
Severe Pain Method for Fast Relief
In an essential oil sample jar or other small glass container, place 3-5 drops of clove essential oil. Add one teaspoon of carrier oil, like olive oil, fractionated coconut oil, or whatever random cooking oil you have on hand that is liquid at room temperature. It’s not ideal, but you’re in pain! Mix it up with a toothpick, skewer, or anything else (preferably non-metal) you can find. Or swirl it around for a while. Just get it mixed up.
Now take a bit of gauze, a bit of a cotton ball, the cotton torn off a swab, or cut a bit of fabric from a clean, white cotton t-shirt. Again, I feel your pain, and if it’s what you have, use it. Dip your fabric into the oil, or cover the mouth of your bottle with the fabric and tip until the fabric gets moistened. Get it pretty wet, but don’t make it too sopping – you don’t need this everywhere in your mouth.
Take your treated ball of whatever, and stick it between your cheek and gum nearest the pain. Leave it there for 30 seconds, then wipe the area around the tooth on both sides.
Some practitioners suggest performing this method without diluting with a carrier oil first. If you are in severe pain and wish to try this, use just 1-2 drops on a small amount of gauze or cotton, and wipe directly onto the gum rather than allowing it to sit. This method is likely to cause some skin irritation, but it is obviously your option.
Maintenance Method as It Heals
or for When You Catch it Early
This method reads a lot like the “oil pulling” method that’s going around. That’s because it pretty much is, with the addition of some relatively high concentrations of clove oil added. Whether you believe oil pulling is a hoax, or that it’s a gift from the goddess to all people, this method is for pain and possible infection. Treat it differently. Do not use this method with high concentrations of clove for more than five days. For more on regular oil pulling, take a look over on this website!
Take a tablespoon (that’s the big one) of raw coconut oil. That’s the stuff that’s solid at room temperature. Put it in a (preferably glass) container and get your handy toothpick or skewer ready. Drop 3-9 drops of clove bud essential oil into the coconut oil and stir until it is thoroughly mixed. Use the smallest number of drops that will give you relief.
The Fun Part
Now put it in your mouth. Yes, it’s kind of gross. Yes, it’s cold on your sensitive teeth. Let it warm up and melt. You’re gonna swish that melty oil in and around your teeth and mouth. You’re going to try and avoid swallowing, because this stuff will upset your tummy. And you’re going to do it for at least 20 minutes – longer if you can stand it. Up to an hour. But seriously, at least 20 minutes.
When the time has come to pass that you may rid yourself of this swill, do so with care. Do not spit down the drain. Do not spit in the toilet. That coconut oil will re-harden when it gets cold, and clog your pipes. Well, not your pipes, but the ones in your home. I do this 2-3 times a day for five days, just to ensure I have cleared any infection.
After You’re Finished
Brush your teeth. Especially if you used the second method, as there may be lots of bacteria and such that was pulled into the oil. You don’t want to ingest that, you’re trying to get it out of your body. The essential oils that have gotten into your system are doing their work. Get the rest of it out of your mouth.
Should Anyone NOT Use These Methods?
Children – use caution. It is probable that clove oil is unsafe for children to take clove oil by mouth. Some trained aromatherapists do consider its use at a 0.25% dilution rate for teething children. We suggest using other oils, such as chamomile and lavender when possible. Also consider other natural and gentle remedies for teething and tooth pain that do not include essential oils.
People with Bleeding Disorders or Who Have Surgery Scheduled Within Two Weeks – do not use. Clove oil is known to cause increased bleeding and “thinning” of the blood, especially when used in higher concentrations. If you are on other blood thinners, whether herbal or pharmaceutical, use severe caution with clove essential oil.
When used for a longer duration than recommended, without being diluted, or when ingested, clove oil can have some serious side effects.
- Burning sensation in tissue where it was applied.
- Permanent nerve damage
- Sore throat (when ingested)
- Vomiting (ingested)
- Kidney Damage/Failure
- Liver Damage/Failure
- Breathing Impairment
As always, if you believe you may have used too much of an oil and may have overdosed, call your doctor or herbalist. Or the local Emergency Room or 911, depending on the severity of the reaction. They may have you take activated charcoal at home or while en route, or may ask you to abstain from any other treatments until you reach the hospital. That’s right, your natural remedy can put you in a position to need modern medicine, so watch it!