Whenever you have a tooth pulled, especially a molar, there is a risk of developing a dry socket. This is a painful and sometimes long-lasing result in about 3 percent to 5 percent of all tooth extractions, according to the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine's website, Simple Steps. Along with several conventional treatments for dry socket, you might try using clove oil, an old folk remedy and natural pain reliever. Because clove oil is quite strong and can cause side effects, consult your dentist before using it in your mouth.
After a tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms at the base of the empty pocket, or socket, replacing the tooth. Over time, gum and bone tissue form to fill in the socket, replacing the tooth and the blood clot is washed away. A dry socket develops if the blood clot is dislodged prematurely, exposing the raw bone below. It may be excruciatingly painful and does not respond well to treatment with over-the-counter drugs.
If you have a dry socket, you will know it. The pain generally begins a few days after the extraction and rapidly radiates to the ear and jaw on the side of your head where the tooth used to be. You may develop halitosis, or bad breath, due to the infection that has lodged itself in the tooth socket. If you experience these symptoms, see your dentist immediately. There may be bone shards or tooth fragments remaining in the socket that have to be removed.
Clove oil has been used traditionally as an analgesic and an antiseptic. Anecdotal evidence indicates it is effective for numbing and killing the pain of toothaches, dry sockets and various other ailments in the mouth, according to the University of Hawaii. The university adds that clove is not only used as a spice, but also was historically used to relieve nausea, as an expectorant, and to treat assorted rashes and skin ailments. In his book, “The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook," James Duke mentions that clove oil may have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which makes it helpful for use in the case of an infection. Various dental preparations include clove oil for its painkilling properties. Clove oil is included as a topical anesthetic in the German Commission's E List, notes Wright State University's Natural Remedies website.
Your dentist will flush the socket to clear any debris. He may use anesthesia to lessen your pain at the time. Conventional dentists will pack the socket with a dressing filled with medication. In some cases, your dentist will use a dressing infused with clove oil, which helps to kill the pain and destroy offending bacteria with its antimicrobial properties.
Treatment of a dry socket can significantly reduce the pain, but healing may take up to several weeks. Diabetics and others, who are slow to heal, may experience an even longer time before the tooth socket is completely healed. Using a bit of clove oil diluted in vegetable oil around the gum may encourage faster healing.
There are several things you can do to prevent a dry socket. Keep your teeth and mouth clean. Get a dental cleaning before an extraction, which will help remove tartar and other debris from the area, preventing those substances from contaminating the open socket after an extraction. Don't use a straw for drinking after an extraction because it may dislodge the blood clot prematurely. Avoid smoking cigarettes, which slow the healing time. Don't rinse your mouth vigorously for at least 24 hours after surgery; however, you might be given an antibacterial rinse, and use it with care. Add a drop or two of clove oil to 1 tsp. of vegetable oil and carefully apply it to the tooth and gum that is scheduled for extraction. You can place cotton balls in your mouth between your lip and gum to keep your lip away from the tooth being treated. The oil may sting a little, which is to be expected.
Precautions and Availability
Clove oil is volatile and very strong and can burn the skin and gums when used undiluted. It is important to dilute it in either water or vegetable oil before placing it in the mouth. Some individuals may develop a local rash after using clove oil. If you experience side effects, stop using it and consult your dentist. Clove oil is available from health food stores that sell essential oils.
- “The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook: Your Everyday Reference to the Best Herbs for Healing“; James Duke; 2002
- University of Hawaii: Clove
- Simple Steps: Dry Socket -- Alveolar Osteitis
- "University of Nebraska Studies in Language, Literature and Criticism"; Nebraska Folk Cures; Pauline Monette Black; 1935