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Fact-check: Clove oil may provide temporary relief from toothache, but it can be toxic

Published on Tue 13 Jun 2023 at 09:21

Using dried clove or clove oil may induce liver harm, acute infection, and gum discomfort.

By Naveed Ahmad Najar

Clove oil, an aromatic essential oil obtained from clove plants, is a popular home remedy for toothaches. From Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine practitioners to social media influencers, there’s no dearth of people who consider cloves to be a natural remedy for dental pain. 

However, there is lack of adequate scientific evidence to support this opinion. In fact, using clove oil in excess or without medical advice can be injurious to health. Ingesting clove oil can cause difficulty in breathing, burning sensations in the nose and throat, and stomach upset. It can be toxic if ingested, leading to poisoning.

Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, consulting dentist at Iqarus and International SOS, Jammu & Kashmir, India, further warns, “Using dried clove or clove oil may induce liver harm, acute infection, and gum discomfort. When people use these remedies, they may inadvertently cause tooth fractures, resulting in changes in facial structure.”

Children should avoid clove oil. Cloves contain chemicals that might affect blood sugar levels and slow blood clotting. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a chronic health issue, or impending surgery, use of clove oil is not recommended. 

While the potent natural anesthetic called eugenol in cloves can temporarily numb the mouth and provide relief from pain, it is important to remember that this is only a temporary solution. It is always advisable to consult a qualified healthcare professional, who can diagnose the underlying cause of the dental problem and suggest appropriate treatment.