Home remedy treatment for dry sockets. -

How to place a clove oil (eugenol) dressing. / When self-treatment makes sense. / Using OTC pain relievers.

Topic Alveolar Osteitis logo.

This page discusses things that you can do, on your own at-home, to treat a dry socket. It would be our recommendation, however, that a self-treatment approach should only be considered to be a first-aid, last-resort type of solution.

The most comprehensive and effective treatment can only be provided by a dentist. And it's the obligation of the dentist who extracted your tooth to provide you with whatever post-operative care you require.


Self-treatment solutions:

a) Eugenol (oil of cloves) dressings.

When a dentist treats a dry socket, they place a medicated dressing directly into the patient's extraction site.

While there are a number of different types/brands of dressing compounds that a dentist might use, a common denominator among them is that they frequently contain the ingredient eugenol.

What is Eugenol?

Eugenol is an oily liquid that's frequently referred to as "oil of cloves." It creates the smell that you typically associate with dental offices (it's used for several other dental purposes too).

It can be purchased on an over-the-counter basis (without a prescription). Ask your pharmacist about suitable products and availability.

Here's how the clove-oil dry socket home remedy is used:

[Note: This home remedy doesn't fully duplicate the level of treatment that a dentist can provide (see below). It should only be considered to be the type of first aid (Menon 2012, NWCG 2012) that's appropriate in situations where attention involving a dental professional is not possible.]

The Eugenol dressing is placed in the tooth's socket.

The eugenol dressing is placed in the opening of the tooth's socket.

  • The tooth socket is gently rinsed (swished) with water or saline solution so any loose debris is removed.
  • A few drops of eugenol (oil of cloves) are placed on a carrier (a piece of cotton or gauze folded into a 1/4 ball or cube).
  • Using tweezers, the carrier is inserted into the tooth's socket.
  • The carrier is removed, discarded and then replaced with another one every 24 hours until the dry socket's pain has subsided.
  • If attention from a dentist becomes available, you should report to them, cease your self-treatment and follow their instructions.

Things to know:

  • In most cases, the clove oil will begin to provide pain relief within the hour, possibly even within minutes.
  • You may still find it necessary to use an over-the-counter pain reliever to provide additional relief.

    Common choices are ibuprofen (Motrin®) or acetaminophen (Tylenol®). (Read your product's directions and stay within its guidelines.)

  • It's better to go comparatively light with the amount/concentration of eugenol used. If clove oil touches other parts of your mouth (soft tissues, tongue), it may sting or burn. You may also find it's taste unpleasant.


Why self-treatment for a dry socket doesn't make the best choice.

A home-remedy approach can't duplicate your dentist's care. Here's why:

  • As with any type of post-extraction complication, it's always best to have a dentist's evaluation.

    Drawing on their expertise they can determine what the most likely cause of your problem is and how it should be treated. (Just because you personally think you have a dry socket doesn't mean that you do.)

  • They'll have all of the tools and equipment needed to properly visualize your wound and perform your treatment as effectively and quickly as possible.

    For example, ineffectual cleansing of debris from the tooth socket could aid in the formation of a secondary infection. Failing to remove the gauze or cotton carrier as described above could do the same, or result in other complications.

  • The dressing that your dentist places will almost certainly contain a number of additional ingredients (anesthetic, antimicrobial agents, etc...) that, collectively, are more beneficial and effective than just eugenol alone.

Times when self-treatment may make sense.

One situation where a dentist might recommend self-treatment is when it's used to supplement the level of care they can provide. Doing so might allow you to obtain relief during those times when they're not available (after hours, weekends).

In this type of situation, the medication that's used might be eugenol (like outlined in our home-remedy above). More likely, your dentist will dispense to you a small amount of the medicated dressing they use when providing care in their office.


b) Using over-the-counter pain relievers by themselves.

In some instances, OTC analgesics (pain pills) alone may be able to control the discomfort caused by a dry socket.

  • Ibuprofen (Motrin®) or acetaminophen (Tylenol®) are frequently used for this purpose. (You'll need to read your product's directions and stay within its guidelines.)
  • For severe cases, you'll probably find that your level of pain is too overwhelming and they don't provide satisfactory relief. (Prescription analgesics, on their own, are typically ineffective too).
  • The most effective treatment involves placing a medicated dressing in your extraction site. And, as mentioned above, preferably by your dentist.

Note: Always keep in mind that pain pills are meant to be swallowed. Placing one on, or in the region of, your dry socket will not be effective and will result in extraction site irritation.

◀ Our previous page discusses how dentists treat dry sockets.

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