Cloves come with a variety of health benefits, especially when it comes to your oral health. Originating from Indonesia’s Spice Islands (aka, Maluku or the Moluccas Islands), cloves have traditionally held great importance, being worth their weight in gold in 17th – 18th century Europe.
In 200 AD China, an emperor of the Han Dynasty required his courtiers to chew cloves before they addressed him, in order to keep their breath smelling fresh. Conventional medicine has since confirmed their effectiveness at combatting halitosis (bad breath).
In fact, in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine, clove or clove oil are still used extensively for a whole host of healing powers that have been proven by modern medicine:
Benefits of clove
- Contains many important vitamins and minerals for healthy brain function and strong bones
- Helps fight skin infections including acne due to its potent antimicrobial & antifungal properties
- Protects against cancer due to its ability to absorb oxygen, inhibit tumor growth and promote cell death in cancer cells
- Promotes liver health due to its beneficial compound eugenol
- Protects against aging by reversing inflammation and cellular oxidation
- Relieves respiratory disorders and clears bronchial passages while also fighting pathogens
How Cloves benefit teeth and gums: the research
According to The History of Dentistry by Walter Hoffmann-Axthelm, the first medical reference to cloves in dentistry was by 10th Century Arabian dentist Al-Gazzar, where he describes their ability to control mouth odors and pain.
Even today cloves or clove oil are most commonly associated with oral health. It’s quite amazing that despite all the medical and dental advances in the past centuries, we are still turning to these traditional, basic methods to relieve toothache and soothe sore gums. So why are cloves so great for teeth and gums?
Cloves have some exciting compounds that your teeth and gums absolutely love. Eugenol, the main compound in cloves, is responsible for their powerful analgesic (pain-relieving) and antiseptic properties. According to a 2012 research study conducted by the Indian government, eugenol has protective teeth-remineralizing properties that help to fight acids that erode dentin.
In 2006, the Journal of Dentistry published a study proving clove oil to have the same numbing effect as the popular but harsh topical agent benzocaine, making it a great natural alternative when numbing a local area before a needle injection. The study also showed that clove oil helps to relieve pain caused by dry socket, a common complication following tooth extraction.
Clove oil may help prevent gum disease and strengthen tooth enamel
One test-tube study showed that clove oil contains compounds that are very effective at stopping the growth of bacteria associated with gum disease.
As well as eugenol, clove oil is also very high in manganese, a mineral incredibly important for bone health. One animal study showed that taking manganese supplements for 12 weeks increased bone mineral density and bone growth. Several studies have found a link between bone density and the alveolar bone, which is the part of the jaw that holds the teeth. Higher bone density, therefore, helps strengthen jaw bone and the support of teeth.
For help with toothache or bad breath, we recommend adding four drops of clove oil in a glass of lukewarm water and gargle at least twice a day for effective results.