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Abscess Tooth Pain & Cloves

author image Shelley Moore
Shelley Moore is a journalist and award-winning short-story writer. She specializes in writing about personal development, health, careers and personal finance. Moore has been published in "Family Circle" magazine and the "Milwaukee Sentinel" newspaper, along with numerous other national and regional magazines, daily and weekly newspapers and corporate publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in psychology.
Abscess Tooth Pain & Cloves
Clove can be a short-term fix for abscessed tooth pain. Photo Credit: Tharakorn/iStock/Getty Images

If you're experiencing pain from a tooth abscess and you can't get to a dentist right away, clove oil might help ease the pain. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says evidence is insufficient to evaluate the use of clove oil for this purpose, clove oil for tooth pain is a traditional use and some dentists advocate it as well. Call your dentist and ask about applying clove oil to an abscessed tooth before doing so.

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Tooth Abscess

A tooth abscess occurs when bacteria infect the center of the tooth, leading to the development of pus and swelling. This causes a toothache. The bacteria enter an opening in the enamel resulting from tooth decay or trauma to the tooth. A chemical component of clove oil called eugenol may decrease pain, and this anesthetic property is the reason people have traditionally applied clove oil to the tooth and gum for pain relief, according to MedlinePlus.

Clove Oil in Dentistry

Dentists who use clove oil to treat tooth pain form a temporary filling with the oil and zinc oxide, according to Atlanta Dental Group. This may soothe the tooth enough so the dentist can later insert a permanent filling and the patient may be able to avoid having a root canal procedure. Germany's regulatory agency for herbs has approved clove oil for use in dentistry as a topical anesthetic, notes the American Cancer Society. Scientific evidence for the use of clove oil to relieve tooth and gum pain is limited, however. One study cited by the ACS found that people using a clove or numbing gel reported less pain from mouth injections than those using a placebo gel. In addition, the numbing medicine and the clove gel appeared to produce similar pain-relieving results.


If you'd like to try clove for relieving pain of a tooth abscess, soak a small piece of cotton with clove oil and insert the cotton into the tooth cavity for pain relief lasting up to 90 minutes, suggests Atlanta Dental Group. Replace the cotton ball as needed. Another method involves dipping a cotton swab in clove oil and applying the oil to the tooth and surrounding gum area, advises the Natural Remedies for Better Health website. Applying a teabag with clove powder also might do the trick. You can find clove oil, which may be labeled eugenol, at most pharmacies. Diluting clove oil with a small amount of olive oil may prevent mouth irritation.


Clove oil should only be used for tooth pain on a short-term basis, according to MedlinePlus. Applying clove oil repeatedly over time can damage the gums, tooth and mucous membranes in the mouth. Dried cloves used for tooth pain also can harm teeth and gums and irritate the mouth. The American Cancer Society recommends only using clove oil for tooth pain under a dentist's supervision.

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