For Pain in Your Mouth... Chew on This!

The power of natural medicine never ceases to amaze me. It's so simple, so inexpensive, and generally very safe.
11/28/2012 11:36 am ET Updated Jan 28, 2013

One of the relatives at my Thanksgiving celebration was recovering from dental surgery. She arrived at her mother's house with an ample supply of applesauce and the dread that no solid food would be able to pass her lips. Sally was further dismayed to realize that she'd left her pain-relieving mouth rinse at home. Her mother is an amazing cook, and Sally had been doing extra-intense workouts so that she could enjoy the meal with guiltless abandon.

The salt-water rinses that she resorted to were helpful, but far from enough. As soon as I heard about it, I advised her to find the bottle of whole cloves. We've written about the anesthetic and anti-inflammatory effects of clove oil over the years, but I actually discovered the mouth-numbing effect of whole cloves when one of my daughters used them in a cookie recipe instead of ground.

I advised Sally to soften the clove in some hot water (they're very hard right out of the jar), then keep it in her mouth next to the wound. Surprised that my suggestion didn't require garlic, vinegar or baking soda (my usual home-remedy ingredients), and desperate for some pain relief, she gave it a try. By the time we sat down to dinner, you'd never know that Sally had had any tooth pain or gum pain at all. Her plate was piled high, and her applesauce remained unopened.

Every day over the weekend, Sally called to give me an update; she'd been either sucking on a clove or steeping a few cloves in her tea since Thursday. The verdict: completely pain-free, and surgery a faint memory. No more dental rinse. The cloves work better.

The power of natural medicine never ceases to amaze me. It's so simple... so inexpensive... and generally very safe. I would never wish a toothache upon anyone -- but if you do get one, consider looking to your kitchen cabinet for help instead of your medicine cabinet.

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