Clove Oil and Pregnancy: Is It Safe to Use? Toothaches and More

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Written by Shandra Williams

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When you’re pregnant, you have to double-check every step you make when taking medicines or using tried and trusted home remedies. For example, one of the first things people often reach for when they have a toothache is clove oil, but can you still use this method of pain relief when you’re pregnant?

Information is inconclusive about whether or not clove oil is safe for pregnant women to use. Many doctors, nurses, and online websites insist that clove oil is safe for pregnant women in small doses, while others recommend that pregnant women avoid it for safety reasons. 

This article will give you varying opinions from reputable doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, and websites on the subject, to help you balance the risks and facts.

Hopefully, it should give you the information you need to decide for yourself which steps you should take next when choosing whether or not to use clove oil during your pregnancy. 

Is Clove Oil Safe During Pregnancy? E.g. For Tooth Pain?

Clove oil may not be safe for ingestion during pregnancy, though professional opinions are divided on that point. It may also be a cause of skin irritation if applied topically. It’s probably safe to diffuse, but you may want to wait until after the first trimester just to be safe. 

a bottle of clove oil on the table

Unfortunately, the information on whether or not it is safe for pregnant women is all over the place. So, while researching this article, I called two of my trusted family members (one a registered nurse, the other a nurse practitioner) to let them settle the matter for me once and for all. 

In that, too, I was disappointed. 

One of them, Kathy B., R.N., said she tells her patients not to use it if they’re pregnant. When I asked her why, she said it was out of “an overabundance of caution” because there was very little information available specifically testing the effects it could have on a developing fetus. 

The other, Jonathan B., N.P., said that he encourages his patients to chew on a single clove leaf to help manage gum and tooth pain.

When I asked him if he thought that was safe for pregnant women, he said, “One leaf is less than some people add to their recipes while cooking. I wouldn’t encourage them to do this every day throughout their entire pregnancies, but one leaf a day for a day or two to manage pain? I see no harm in it.”

Online sources are just as divided over the ingestion of clove plant oil. For example, some sources explicitly say that expectant mothers should avoid it (sources: WebMD, The University of Texas at El Paso, &  The University of Minnesota). 

However, other reputable online sources do not list it among the list of essential oils to avoid while pregnant. Some even actively say that using oil of clove for toothache during pregnancy is safe (sources: Crest, National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, Newbury Smiles Dentistry, & Ohio State University).   

My advice is the same as it always is when you’re unsure about something: Go directly to your doctor and ask. S/he’s going to know more about you and your pregnancy than any online website or health professional you’ve never met and should be able to give you the most sound advice about whether or not to use it.

Can I Use Clove Oil if I’m Breastfeeding?

You shouldn’t use oil of cloves if you’re breastfeeding without speaking to your healthcare provider first. It can cause serious harm to children, including seizures and liver damage, and not enough information exists to know whether mothers can pass clove oil through their breast milk. 

While it’s somewhat unlikely that the small amounts of clove oil you’d need for a toothache would pass through breast milk and harm your child, there are no guarantees, and it’s always better to err on the side of caution than risking your child’s health (source: Drugs.com). 

clove oil and cloves on the table

Can Clove Oil Cause Miscarriage?

Ingesting too much clove oil could potentially lead to a miscarriage, which is why many websites and healthcare professionals advise against using it while pregnant. 

Although studies on the administration of clove oil by pregnant women are extremely limited, there have been enough instances of clove oil causing uterine contractions to make many healthcare professionals leery of it (source: The University of Texas at El Paso). 

The few studies that do exist deal specifically with the ingestion of clove plant oil. When added to a diffuser and inhaled, oil of cloves is probably safe after the first trimester, but again, it never hurts to avoid it if you’re unsure or at least talk to your doctor before you use it.

I know this article probably didn’t give you the definitive answer you were looking for when you came here. As with many natural products or foods during pregnancy, it’s a balance between risk and relief from an ailment like toothache.

Still, hopefully, it gave you enough sound advice to make you check in with your doctor before deciding to use clove oil for toothaches or anything else while pregnant – and understanding why we’re unable to provide a 100% definitive answer, all of the time!