Oil of Cloves for Toothache

I had a bad back molar. Thanks to persistent vomiting for 28 weeks during my pregnancy with Blossom, the enamel weakened and I got a cavity. Thanks to being broke with no dental insurance and no way to pay the co-pay on dental insurance, this cavity ran amok for a couple of years. Once insured, I discovered that it wasn’t a drill-n-fill issue anymore. I needed a crown.

This worked fine for a few years. Unfortunately, I am a bruxer (I grit my teeth while asleep) so my crown finally broke a couple of months ago.

When my demist saw it he said there was only a bit of it broken off the edge and it was still protecting the tooth. He said we could wait awhile before I needed another crown. However, I knew that crowns eventually became root canals, post and core, and other things I would rather not have to do. Thus, I told my dentist that I would prefer to have the tooth extracted. It wouldn’t effect my ability to chew, nor was the gap visible no matter how widely I smiled. We could just treat it like a rouge 5th wisdom tooth and be done with it.

After consultation, it was decided that there was no reason to extract the tooth until it needed to be extracted. I was to contact the dentist when it started giving me trouble and he would give me a referral to a good local oral surgeon. What neither of us realized was that my tooth wouldn’t give me any indicator pangs – that it would shoot straight for searing, throbbing agony. Or that it would chose to do so on the weekend.

I had to wait until Monday to have the tooth out, but the “discomfort” of the tooth was “unpleasant” and over the counter pain medicines were not making it much better. I therefore went online to find out if there were any home remedies for toothache that might help.

The resounding answer was: clove oil.

Turns out clove oil (called eugenol) is frequently used in professional dental treatments. The eugenol is a very effective topical analgesic/anesthetic and also has antiseptic qualities.  A study in 2006 found clove oil to be as efficacious as benzocaine in numbing the gums of dental patients. It is frequently recommended to help with the pain from post-extraction dry socket.

With a hopeful heart I read the instructions and tried the clove oil. It worked! The searing agony became a dull ache, which was infinitely more bearable.

Cloves were a popular spice and medicine from the time they were first introduced to Europe by Muslim merchants. Tudor physicians would recommend chewing cloves or applying powdered cloves to cure a toothache. Granted, the Tudor doctor thought that the “hotness” of the clove was killing the “worms” that caused toothache, but the treatment still worked. Just because they didn’t have the words “antiseptic” or “analgesic” didn’t mean they didn’t notice that cloves would ease the pain and sometimes even heal the abscessed tooth.

Although clove oil is wonderful, it must be said that I am glad I live in a time and place where I could be put completely under for the tooth extraction and then given hydrocodone afterwards. I must admit that hydrocodone is much more effective than clove oil at making pain go away. Of course, it also made my ability to stay awake go away too.

Moreover, I don’t think hydrocodone would be good in a pumpkin pie. The cloves win that one hands down.

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