Clove is one of the strangest-looking spices around.
While it may appear to be a small, grilled mushrooms, it is in fact a dried flower bud.
The spice has been used in traditional cooking for centuries — particularly in Chinese, Indian, and Middle-Eastern cuisine.
Besides their unique flavor and aroma, cloves come with a long list of proven and plausible health benefits.
Perhaps the most notable claims have to do with our teeth.
It’s said that cloves can:
- Get rid of oral bacteria
- Numb painful toothaches
- Give you a whiter smile
- Help strengthen your teeth
But is this actually true?
Let’s find out by looking at the claims one by one.
Cloves For Gum Disease
Cloves have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years.
For instance, the spice was highly-sought after by the ancient Romans.
Other than bringing extra flavor to their meals, cloves were used as a natural remedy for tooth aches.
Those with money to spare also used them to make a potent mouthwash.
As it turns out, these supposed benefits may be more than old wives’ tales.
A study published in the Journal if Natural Products showed that cloves (Syzygium aromaticum) could stop the growth of oral pathogens (study).
Specifically, the flavones in cloves called kaempferol and myricetin were singled out as the heroes.
The Anti-Bac Duo
These two compounds demonstrated what the researchers called “potent growth-inhibitory activity” against two types of bacteria:
Both of these bacteria are classed as oral pathogens, and can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums if they’re allowed to grow.
While cloves may not cure gum disease on their own, they could certainly be used together with other treatments for increased effectiveness.
Also, using a mouthwash with clove extract in it (kind of like the Romans) may help prevent the problem from occurring in the first place.
Cloves For Tooth Aches
OK, so cloves can help fight bad bacteria that want to live in our mouths.
That’s pretty neat, but what if you’re suffering from a terrible tooth ache?
Were the Romans right about that one, too — can cloves really be used to alleviate pain in our pearly whites?
Based on the modern literature, that certainly seems to be the case.
The Anti-Pain Compound
Cloves contain a natural anesthetic known as eugenol.
A 2006-study published in the Journal of Dentistry found that clove gel produced around the same pain-numbing effect as benzocaine — a commonly used anesthetic (study).
So, when you’re stuck with an annoying tooth ache, with no dentist appointment in sight, try using cloves.
Keep in mind, though:
While eating them can provide some benefit, a more concentrated dose in the form of gels or a paste will likely produce a stronger effect.
Cloves For Teeth Whitening
Stopping oral bacteria from growing and relieving tooth aches?
It seems cloves really are good for your teeth!
But it doesn’t end there — cloves have even more benefits to bestow upon your ivories.
One of them is making, or keeping, them white and overall healthy-looking.
Well, they won’t give you the dramatic effect of a professional whitening kit.
However, cloves can help you deal with something that’ll otherwise prevent your teeth from shining…
The Enemy Of Healthy Teeth
I’m talking about plaque.
That nasty, insidious, yellow, sticky stuff that contains flourishing bacteria.
To get and keep a bright, attractive smile, you need to keep plaque away at all times.
One way to help with that is regularly eating cloves, or using clove oil or mouthwash containing the spice.
A comparative study from 2014 showed that a herbal mouthwash with tea tree oil, cloves, and basil could fight mouth bacteria and keep plaque from forming (study).
Can Cloves Give You Stronger Teeth?
Last, but not least:
For good oral health, it’s essential to have strong, durable teeth.
Even in this area, cloves may be of great help.
It all comes down to one essential, but often-overlooked, mineral:
As it turns out, cloves are absolutely filled with it.
Only one tablespoon of the spice (around 6 grams) will give you a whopping 2mg of manganese.
That’s about 100% of the daily recommended intake — with one measly tablespoon!
How Manganese Helps Teeth
Alright, that’s neat, but what’s that got to do with strong teeth?
Well, manganese is a co-factor when it comes to the formation of bone cartilage and collagen, as well as proper mineralization (scientific review).
Some research suggests that diets low in manganese could lead to osteopenia — a precursor to the much-feared osteoporosis (study).
Your bone health is strongly associated with the health of your teeth (study).
In fact, women with osteoporosis have been shown be up to 3 times more likely to experience loss of teeth (source).
Getting enough manganese is very important, and eating cloves is one of the quickest ways to achieve that.
If you’re already deficient, getting your levels up could lead to stronger bones and teeth in the long run.
So, are cloves good for your teeth?
As you can see, the answer is a resounding YES!
Whether you want stronger, healthier teeth, or you need relief from a horrible toothache, cloves can be of great help.
They can be eaten raw, used in cooking, or in the form of gels, paste, oil or extracts.
Whatever you choose, there are good reasons to have this wonderful spice in your life.