If you have ever experienced clove essential oil, you probably remember it. The smell of clove is unique, pungent, and spicy. Basically, when it comes to aromas, you either love clove or can’t stand it. Either way, you can’t deny the vast healing power of this most pungent spice that has been used within Chinese medicine and in other parts of the world for over 2,000 years − particularly when it comes to tooth and mouth health.
Historical Use of Clove Oil for Toothache and Gum Pain
According to “The History of Dentistry” by Walter Hoffmann-axthelm, the Emperor of China was said to have used clove as a “mouth perfume” as far back as 200 AD, and the first medicinal reference to cloves was by 10th century Arabian dentist al-Gazzar, when cloves were used to control mouth odors and pain.
Even today the most common association people make with clove essential oil is to oral health. Isn’t it incredible that despite all our medical and dental advances that centuries later clove is still a go-to substance for pain relief for toothaches and achy gums?
It’s also been a long-standing favorite of parents with teething babies. With this method a tiny amount of clove oil, heavily diluted with a light carrier oil to avoid irritation (i.e. coconut or olive oil), is applied to the gums to soothe the pain.
What makes clove so effective as a tooth and gum reliever? Studies have confirmed that clove contains benzocaine, the same basic stuff traditional doctors and dentists usually use to numb a local area before inserting a needle. If you’ve ever gotten clove oil on your tongue you’ll recognize that numbing (“my tongue is frozen”) effect!
Can Clove Oil Help Protect Tooth Enamel?
Another interesting advantage of using clove for your gums and tooth health is that it may also help with tooth “decalcification” or tooth “erosion.”
If you’re heeding the advice of health experts that say to drink a glass of water with lemon juice every morning, then this is especially applicable to you…
Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning is a GREAT thing to do for your overall health, but it might not be the best thing for your teeth. (As a side note, a drop of lemon essential oil in your water is a good alternative to lemon juice in water. Drinking lemon water with a straw can also help to protect your teeth). All that acidic liquid from fresh lemon juice can do a number on your tooth enamel over time.
Clove oil, however, has been found to support tooth health by helping to slow dental erosion caused by acidic foods and drink. In fact, in some studies, such as a 2012 investigation conducted by the Indian government, clove oil was found to actually help with teeth re-mineralization.
Knowing what clove oil can do for your teeth, gums and tooth enamel, why would you want to use fluoride for so-called tooth health and risk all the nasty, proven side effects − including sterility and lower cognitive ability − that potentially comes along with it? Do yourself a favor and ditch the fluoride toothpaste (and the tap water that may contain fluoride as well) and go for side effect-free clove oil. It’s natural, free of toxins (if from a quality brand), and has been demonstrated effective over thousands of years for your mouth health. You can find a healthy DIY toothpaste recipe here and a mouthwash recipe down below.
Clove for Your Gums & Overall Dental Health
Did you know that inside your mouth there are over 700 different kinds of bacterial species? It’s safe to say that not all of them are the “friendly” kind. And this is precisely where clove’s unique anti-bacterial properties come in handy. Clove can provide a level of protection against bad bacteria which it turn helps to prevent gum disease.
Microorganisms in the mouth that can lead to gum disease and tooth decay are resilient. They have their own “will to survive” that often make them hardy and difficult to control.
Many strains of harmful bacteria that lodge themselves in the mouth — and in the body — develop resistance to traditional avenues of controlling them, such as antibiotics. According to a report published in the journal Compendium, many bad bacteria can’t develop a tolerance nor resistance to clove oil (thyme oil as well). This fact makes these two essential oils very effective anti-bacterial agents for the mouth and gums.
A side note about clove’s anti-bacterial properties: some experts say that clove oil can even help with candida overgrowth when taken internally. Be sure to work with a naturopathic health professional to determine how best to proceed if addressing this condition.
Caution When Using: Clove Oil is Powerful
When it comes to clove oil, more is not necessarily better. Clove essential oil is considered a “hot” oil that can be harsh on the stomach lining if used internally too much. It can also be irritating to the skin, so always make sure that you use a quality organic carrier oil when you apply it to the skin. This goes for the skin in your mouth (i.e. your gums) as well.
Be especially careful to keep clove oil away from your eyes and other sensitive membranes as it will sting. If you do accidentally apply it in the wrong spot, don’t flush with water which will only spread it around − dilute with a carrier oil.
And of course, make sure that your clove oil has “supplement facts” on the label. Remember that if your essential oil label does not have this wording or information then it should not be used orally.
In fact, because the skin is a great absorber (we literally “drink in” all the creams, lotions and oils we slather on it), it is best to always use quality essential oils no matter what the capacity you are using them in. That just makes good, safe sense!
How to Make Your Own Clove Essential Oil Mouthwash
Essential oils (including clove oil) available from Epigenetic Labs are among the highest quality essential oils available to consumers. They are made with indigenously sourced plants retrieved from the world’s best sources.
- History of Dentistry (Quintessance Books)
- The Gentle Art of Periodontal Maintenance: A Protocol Using Essential Oils
- The Antibacterial Action of Eugenol, Thyme Oil, and Related Essential Oils Used in Dentistry
- Defining the Normal Bacterial Flora of the Oral Cavity
- The Effect of Clove and Benzocaine Versus Placebo as Topical Anesthetics
- A Randomised Double-blind Placebo-controlled Study on the Effects of a Herbal Toothpaste on Gingival Bleeding, Oral Hygiene and Microbial Variables
- In Vitro Inhibitory Effect of Clove Essential Oil and Its Two Active Principles on Tooth Decalcification by Apple Juice
- Clove and Eugenol in Noncytotoxic Concentrations Exert Immunomodulatory/Anti-inflammatory Action on Cytokine Production by Murine Macrophages
- Water Fluoridation: A Critical Review of the Physiological Effects of Ingested Fluoride as a Public Health Intervention