Cloves come from an evergreen tree named Eugenia Caryophyllata.
It’s got a distinctively warm aroma, and the sweet spiciness it adds to a variety of baked goods and holiday drinks is unmistakable; however, many other wonderful things come from the multifaceted fruit bud of this evergreen – the clove.
Clove is a Germicide
One of clove’s most useful attributes is the fact that it’s a germicide – this means it is great for dental care. Although I’m not saying that eating a spicy, clove-filled brunsli cookie or a sugary piece of gingerbread is the same as brushing your teeth, clove, in its pure oil form, can be successfully incorporated into an herbal dental care routine because of its many benefits. Clove oil is one of the most powerful of the essential oils.
Clove Oil for a Dental Care Routine
Clove oil is awesome for both a dental care routine and to treat toothaches. For a sore tooth, just get a bottle of clove oil from the pharmacy or your local essential oil purveyor, dab onto the complaining tooth, and feel the pain subside. You can also use roughly 30 drops of the oil directly on the problem tooth and adjacent gums.
Alternately, you could make a clove compress by mixing two or three drops of clove oil with a carrier oil such as olive oil, dab into a cotton ball, and hold the cotton ball against the tooth for a couple of minutes. These methods work on two levels — because clove oil is a numbing agent, the pain goes away, and the offending toothache is actually treated by the antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial ingredients in the clove. You’re not only getting rid of the symptom, but you’re taking steps to treat the cause as well.
Make a Temporary Dental Filling Using Clove Oil
Here is an informative video; he teaches viewers to make a temporary dental filling using clove oil, zinc oxide, and toothpicks. You can also use clove oil and other common ingredients to make a mouthwash. As you can see, clove oil is one ingredient you definitely want to have in your medicine cabinet.
Eugenol – The Active Ingredient in Clove Oil
So what is the active ingredient that makes clove oil so good for toothaches? The reason clove oil is so powerful, is the (surprisingly dorky-sounding) eugenol. Eugenol is responsible for the scent we know as “clove,” though it is also found in nutmeg and cinnamon. It constitutes anywhere from 70-90% of the composition of most clove oils. Eugenol is a powerful antiseptic and antifungal, and its pleasant, sweet smell makes it a nicer topical alternative to tea tree oil for some (including me). But for teeth, clove oil certainly works wonders; clove, and its derivative ethanol, is actually a main ingredient in many popular mouthwashes and toothpastes.
Clove is one of the herbal pain relievers that everyone agrees works. It’s been used for centuries to counteract tooth problems, and it’s completely safe, so why not try some when you next feel a pain? At the very least, it’ll help until you get to the dentist.
Maria (Niina) Pollari is a poet, editor, writer and translator. She wrote two chapbooks, Fabulous Essential (2009) and Book Four (2011). Pollari’s writing has been featured in numerous literary journals as well as the Brooklyn Rail and Jezebel.com. She has received her Master’s in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.