Looking for the best home remedies for dry socket? You might consider using honey, clove oil, oregano oil and other natural cures. Unfortunately, few of them actually work. Clove oil, for example, may help destroy bacteria and ward off infections, but it has its share of side effects.
Clove oil is rich in eugenol, a natural compound with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Stick to the recommended dose to prevent adverse reactions.
What Is a Dry Socket?
Tooth extraction is one of the most common procedures in dental offices worldwide. Despite its apparent simplicity, it often causes a lot of pain and may have serious complications. Adults who have their wisdom teeth removed may develop infections, dental abscesses and inflammation.
Another potential complication is a dry socket, which can cause a bad taste in the mouth and severe pain. Also known as alveolar osteitis, this condition occurs when the bone remains exposed after extraction, because there is no blood clot to cover it.
Normally, a blood clot forms in the tooth socket in the days following the procedure. Sometimes, however, it becomes dislodged or doesn't form at all, leaving the alveolar bone exposed.
The role of the blood clot is to protect the nerves and underlying tissues. Without it, food particles can enter the tooth socket and cause pain. They can also ferment, resulting in bad breath and bacteria buildup.
Up to 5 percent of all people who have their teeth removed develop a dry socket, according to a research paper published in the Journal of the Korean Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons in April 2018. The risk is even higher for wisdom tooth extractions, as dry socket occurs in about 38 percent of cases.
The exact cause of alveolar osteitis is unknown. As the Cleveland Clinic points out, several factors may contribute to this problem. Cigarette smoking, poor oral hygiene and complications during tooth removal are just a few examples. A July 2013 study featured in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery suggests that women are more likely to develop a dry socket in the middle of the menstrual cycle than during their periods.
Does Clove Oil Help?
A dry socket can cause excruciating pain — not to mention that terrible smell coming from your mouth. If, for some reason, you cannot see a dentist or prefer to avoid antibiotics, you may resort to home remedies, such as clove oil. This product is rich in essential oils with antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, according to a December 2012 review published in the Brazilian Journal of Microbiology.
Read more: 3 Essential Oils to Reduce Tooth Pain
Clove oil has been used as a natural remedy for centuries. In clinical trials reported in the Brazilian Journal of Microbiology, it has been proven effective against bacteria, yeast, fungi and other pathogens. Its health benefits are attributed to eugenol and other polyphenols with antimicrobial effects.
Using clove oil after wisdom tooth extraction may help protect against infections, but it won't eliminate the risk. Many other factors come into play, including your oral hygiene routine.
A research paper published in Contemporary Clinical Dentistry in April-June 2016 reviewed several home remedies for dry socket and other dental problems. As the scientists note, clove oil is a natural antibacterial agent. Eugenol, one of its active compounds, may help relieve pain and swelling due to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
How Does It Work?
As mentioned, the potential benefits of clove oil are largely due to eugenol. This phenolic compound has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and destroy pathogens.
A study featured in the British Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery in November 2015 compared the effects of eugenol, chlorhexidine and no treatment on 270 patients who had their wisdom teeth removed. Nine of the subjects who received no treatment and two of those who used chlorhexidine gel developed a dry socket.
None of the participants using a eugenol-based paste had this problem. These findings indicate that eugenol may be more effective than chlorhexidine, a popular antiseptic agent.
Another study, published in the July 2017 edition of Food & Nutrition Research shows that eugenol may protect against DNA damage and destroy foodborne pathogens. Isoeugenol, an essential oil extracted from ylang-ylang, appears to be even more effective.
Eugenol isn't free of side effects, though. When used in large doses, it may affect the liver and lungs, as reported in the Contemporary Clinical Dentistry review. You may also experience allergic skin reactions, gastrointestinal symptoms, hypersensitivity and other adverse reactions. Other potential side effects include:
- Breathing problems
- Coughing up blood
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Burns in the oral cavity and throat
High doses of eugenol may cause liver failure, especially in children. In severe cases, this compound may induce seizures, loss of consciousness and even coma. However, these side effects are rare. To stay safe, stick to the recommended dose.
Dry Socket Treatment at Home
As you see, clove oil can be used for dry socket treatment at home. Just make sure you don't go overboard. Also, note that it provides only temporary relief.
Pour a few drops of oil on a cotton ball and then place it on the affected area. Keep it there for about five minutes and apply it again after three hours or so.
Don't use this product if you're allergic to clove oil or eugenol. Some people may become sensitive to it, so it's important to monitor your symptoms during treatment. Contact your doctor in case you experience any side effects.
Clove oil is generally safe for adults and toddlers over the age of two. However, it should not be used for teething pain. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, consult a medical professional before using clove oil or eugenol-based formulas.
Remember to practice good oral hygiene, especially after tooth extraction. Try to stop smoking before and after the procedure, as the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons recommends. Rinse your mouth gently and avoid the extraction site when brushing your teeth. Exercise is not recommended in the first few days after wisdom tooth removal, as it may slow down the recovery process.
If you develop a dry socket and don't see any improvements after using clove oil, reach out to your dentist. Without proper treatment, this condition may lead to chronic bone infection and slow the healing process.
Other home remedies for dry socket, such as tea tree oil, turmeric and honey, may help, too. For example, a January–April 2018 study published in the Journal of Oral Biology and Craniofacial Research found that turmeric may help reduce pain and swelling while accelerating wound healing in patients with alveolar osteitis.
Curcumin, one of its active compounds, has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. This polyphenol has been shown to possibly be effective in the treatment of scabies, wounds, chronic ulcers and skin disorders.
- Cochrane: "Antibiotics to Prevent Complications Following Tooth Extractions"
- Journal of the Korean Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons: "Dry Socket Etiology, Diagnosis, and Clinical Treatment Techniques"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Dry Socket"
- JOMS: "Effect of Menstrual Cycle on Frequency of Alveolar Osteitis in Women Undergoing Surgical Removal of Mandibular Third Molar: A Single-Blind Randomized Clinical Trial"
- Brazilian Journal of Microbiology: "Microbicide Activity of Clove Essential Oil (Eugenia caryophyllata)"
- NCBI: "Multimodal Management of Dental Pain With Focus on Alternative Medicine: A Novel Herbal Dental Gel"
- Frontiers in Microbiology: "Eugenol Induces Phenotypic Alterations and Increases the Oxidative Burst in Cryptococcus"
- NCBI: "Effectiveness of 0.2% Chlorhexidine Gel and a Eugenol-Based Paste on Postoperative Alveolar Osteitis in Patients Having Third Molars Extracted: A Randomised Controlled Clinical Trial"
- PubChem: "Chlorhexidine"
- NCBI: "Comparison Study on Antioxidant, DNA Damage Protective and Antibacterial Activities of Eugenol and Isoeugenol Against Several Foodborne Pathogens"
- American Chemical Society: "Isoeugenol"
- MedlinePlus: "Eugenol Oil Overdose"
- Electronic Medicines Compendium: "Clove Oil"
- American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons: "What Is Dry Socket?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dry Socket"
- NCBI: "Role of Turmeric in Management of Alveolar Osteitis (Dry Socket): A Randomised Clinical Study"