Updated on February 22, 2024
6 min read

Clove Oil for Toothaches: Does It Help?

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Toothaches are painful, and reaching a dentist for immediate attention can be difficult or inconvenient. While you can use over-the-counter pain medication to relieve toothache, natural treatments are also available.

One popular natural remedy to treat a toothache is cloves. The use of cloves in pain relief goes back centuries and was widespread in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. 

Today, you can still use cloves to soothe your toothache. You can buy clove oil online and at many health food shops.

clove oil in small bottle beside cloves in wooden spoon

How to Use Clove Oil for a Toothache

​​To use clove oil for a toothache, you will need:

  • A bottle of clove oil or powder
  • A cotton swab or cotton bud
  • Carrier oil (like almond oil, olive oil, or coconut oil)
  • A small dish

You may also use clove powder, which is typically used for baking. However, clove oil is more effective.

Here are the steps for using clove oil for a toothache:

  1. Add a few drops of clove oil and one teaspoon of carrier oil to the dish.
  2. Soak your swab or cotton ball with the clove oil mixture. Gently wipe the swab or cotton bud around the affected area. Or, place the cotton ball over the area.
  3. Allow the clove oil to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Reapply every two to three hours as needed for relief.

Alternatively, you can swirl the clove oil mixture in your mouth. Swish the oil in the affected area to avoid numbing your mouth.

Another option is to create a clove gel or paste by grinding cloves and mixing them with oil. However, this is less effective than using concentrated clove oil.

How Effective is Clove Oil for Tooth Pain?

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rates the effectiveness of some treatments based on the available evidence and has recently downgraded the classification of clove oil. 

The FDA states there is insufficient evidence to suggest clove oil is effective for a toothache. More research is necessary.3

However, clove oil contains the active ingredient eugenol, a natural anesthetic. Eugenol helps numb and lessen the pain to relieve a toothache. It may also lessen swelling and irritation in the area.

One study showed that eugenol relieves pain, inflammation, and infection more effectively than other analgesics.1 Participants who used the eugenol-based paste also experienced better wound healing than those who used an alternative or no treatment.

Other evidence shows that eugenol inhibits voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSC) in the primary supply neurons of the teeth.2

How Does Clove Oil Work?

Cloves are dried flower buds from a tree of the Myrtaceae family. Clove oil is the extracted, concentrated solution from the plant. Refined clove oil can contain between 80 to 90 percent eugenol, depending on the technique used. 

Eugenol is a natural analgesic that numbs the skin it touches, providing temporary relief from a toothache. Eugenol is commonly used in dental materials because of its anti-inflammatory effects. 

If you use clove oil to treat a toothache, do not use it as a substitute for proper dental care. If a toothache is persistent or worsens, seek treatment to avoid potentially severe and expensive complications.

Side Effects & Risks of Clove Oil

Clove oil is naturally unpleasant to taste for some people. If you use clove oil for a toothache, try to avoid swallowing it.

Ingesting clove oil can also lead to several other side effects, including:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Burning in your nose and throat
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea

While clove oil is considered an acceptable alternative medicine for toothaches, mainstream medical doctors do not widely support it. If you want to use clove oil for toothache relief, discuss it with your dentist or doctor.

You should avoid giving undiluted clove oil to children. Children may swallow clove oil by mistake, which can be dangerous. If you want to use clove oil to treat your child, mix it with a natural carrier oil and use a cotton swab to apply the diluted clove oil directly to the affected area.

Carrier oils such as coconut oil or olive oil dilute the strength of clove oil and make it easier for children to tolerate.

When to See a Dentist for a Toothache

If your toothache persists for more than one or two days, you should make an appointment to see your dentist for professional medical advice. If your toothache is left untreated, it may worsen. 

Clove oil can work well as a natural anesthetic for temporary pain. It may be strong enough to reduce swelling and pain from a sensitive tooth. 

However, if your dental pain results from more serious health conditions, it is essential to speak with your dentist. Your dental pain may be due to a cavity or broken tooth.

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Alternative Toothache Treatments

​​While clove oil has been effective for many people, it is not for everyone. Fortunately, there are alternative toothache treatments to try, including:

  • Taking over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen
  • Using topical anesthetics, like an over-the-counter dental gel — not suitable for children under the age of 12
  • Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water or ice water
  • Dabbing diluted peppermint oil or pressing a peppermint tea bag against your gums
  • Applying a cold compress against the cheek 

However, if your toothache doesn’t respond to these treatments or persists for several days, it’s time to pay a visit to your dentist.

Common Causes of a Toothache

Most toothaches are caused by:

  • Tooth decay that leads to cavities or holes in the hard surface of the tooth
  • A cracked tooth
  • Loose or broken fillings
  • Receding gums
  • Periapical abscess or pus at the end of the tooth caused by a bacterial infection

If the toothache is untreated, the tooth may become infected and lead to worse dental pain. 

Treatments for a Toothache

To determine the cause of a toothache, your dentist will perform a physical examination. They may also suggest an X-ray.

The type of treatment required depends on the underlying cause. 

Treatment may include:

  • Extracting a decayed area and replacing it with a filling
  • Extracting and replacing loose or broken fillings
  • Performing root canal treatment on an infected tooth

How to Prevent a Toothache

The best way to avoid a toothache is to practice standard oral care for your teeth and gums.

Some best practices include:

  • Reducing your intake of sugary foods and drink
  • Quitting or avoiding smoking
  • Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing daily
  • Regular check-ups with your dentist

Good oral hygiene will help prevent dental issues that may result in a toothache.


Clove oil is a natural treatment that’s been in use for pain relief for centuries. You can use it as an alternative treatment for a toothache by applying it to the affected area. 

Research shows that the active ingredient in cloves, eugenol, acts as an analgesic, but the FDA would like to see more evidence on the effectiveness of clove oil. Always visit a dentist if your toothache lasts for more than two days.

Last updated on February 22, 2024
7 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 22, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Jesudasan, J, et al. “Effectiveness of 0.2% chlorhexidine gel and a eugenol-based paste on postoperative alveolar osteitis in patients having third molars extracted: a randomised controlled clinical trial.” The British Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, National Library of Medicine, 2015.
  2. Ulanowska, M., et al. “Biological Properties and Prospects for the Application of Eugenol—A Review.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, MDPI, 2021 
  3. Clove, MedlinePlus, 2020.
  4. Nuñez, L, and M D’ Aquino. “Microbicide activity of clove essential oil (Eugenia caryophyllata).” Brazilian Journal of Microbiology, National Library of Medicine, 2012.
  5. Taher, Y., et al. “Experimental evaluation of anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive and antipyretic activities of clove oil in mice.” The Libyan Journal of Medicine, National Library of Medicine, 2015.
  6. Cortés-Rojas, D.,et al. “Clove (Syzygium aromaticum): a precious spice.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, National Library of Medicine, 2014.
  7. Fu, Y., et al.. “The Antibacterial Activity of Clove Essential Oil Against Propionibacterium acnes and Its Mechanism of Action.”  Archives of Dermatology, Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology, 2009.
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