Using a Plantain Poultice to Treat a Tooth Infection

A tooth infection, also known as a dental abscess, can cause excruciating pain and needs to be dealt with promptly. While antibiotics are often necessary for serious tooth infections, herbal poultices made from the plantain leaf can provide relief and support healing until dental treatment is available.

What is Plantain?

Plantain is a common weed with broad, oval leaves that grows in lawns, meadows, and along roadsides worldwide. The plantain plant has natural antibiotic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties that make it effective for treating wounds, sores, and infections when applied topically. There are two main species used medicinally:

  • Common plantain (Plantago major) has broad leaves growing in a rosette pattern close to the ground.
  • Psyllium or blond plantain (Plantago ovata) has long, narrow leaves and is the source of psyllium fiber used as a laxative and dietary supplement.

For dental infections, the Plantago major species is used to make healing poultices from the leaves. Plantain contains biologically active compounds like allantoin, apigenin, and aucubin that provide its therapeutic effects.

Using Plantain for Tooth Infections

Applying a plantain poultice directly to an infected tooth and surrounding gum area can help draw out toxins, reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and support healing. The antimicrobial compounds in plantain limit bacterial growth while the anti-inflammatory effects help reduce swollen, painful gums.

There are two main ways to use plantain poultices for tooth infections:

1. Chew on Fresh Leaves

Simply chewing a fresh plantain leaf will release the natural juices. Place the masticated leaf directly onto the sore tooth and gum, keeping it in place for at least 15-30 minutes. Reapply a couple times per day.

Chewing the leaf helps break down the plant cells so the beneficial compounds are released topically when placed in the mouth. This is the simplest poultice preparation.

2. Make a Paste or Compress

For a more substantial poultice, crush or grind dried or fresh plantain leaves into a paste. Apply a thick layer of this paste to the infected tooth and surrounding gum area.

You can grind the leaves by pounding them with a mortar and pestle or blender. Mix in just enough water to make a thick paste.

Place a cotton pad or gauze over the paste, then bite down to hold it in place. Keep the poultice on for at least an hour, regularly changing out the padding as it becomes saturated. Reapply every 2-4 hours.

Making a paste allows you to apply a larger amount for better absorption. The compress helps keep the poultice from being rubbed off.

When to Use a Plantain Poultice

Plantain poultices can provide relief for:

  • Toothaches
  • Gum infections
  • Abscesses
  • Pain and swelling after dental procedures like root canals or tooth extractions

The anti-inflammatory effects help reduce painful swelling while the antimicrobial properties fight infection. The poultice draws toxins out of wounds to promote healing.

Do not place poultices directly on irritated or damaged gum tissue as it may sting. Avoid using on open wounds or sores.

Plantain poultices are only for short-term relief of mild to moderate tooth infections. They cannot cure serious infections impacting the tooth’s root or nerve which require dental intervention.

Other Remedies to Use with Plantain

While plantain poultices reduce inflammation and fight infection, other herbs can enhance pain relief:

  • Cloves contain eugenol, a natural pain reliever that can numb sore areas in the mouth when applied topically. Stick ground clove powder on the infected tooth.
  • Guava leaves have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. Boil leaves to make an antiseptic mouth rinse.
  • Ginger helps reduce inflammation and swelling. Make a paste with fresh ginger and apply to the outer gum area.
  • Garlic has antibiotic properties that fight bacteria. Crush raw garlic and place near the infected tooth.

Do not put undiluted essential oils directly on the gums as they may burn or irritate. Only use diluted oils externally.

When to Seek Emergency Dental Care

While plantain poultices can temporarily relieve pain and fight infection, dental infections ultimately require treatment by a dentist. Seek emergency care for:

  • Unbearable, throbbing tooth pain not relieved by remedies
  • Facial swelling around the tooth
  • Fever, chills, or difficulty swallowing
  • Pus or bad taste coming from the tooth
  • Gum boils or sores with oozing pus

Signs like these indicate the infection may have spread deeper into tooth tissue or jaw bone, requiring antibiotics or drainage.

Do not rely only on herbal poultices when showing any signs of a serious infection. Get emergency dental treatment, even if just temporarily until more permanent dental work can be done.

Why a Plantain Poultice Works

Plantain is uniquely suited for treating tooth infections due to containing multiple beneficial compounds:

  • Allantoin stimulates new tissue growth, helping heal damaged gums and other mouth wounds.
  • Apigenin is an anti-inflammatory flavonoid that reduces swelling and pain.
  • Aucubin has antimicrobial effects against bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
  • Tannins have an astringent effect, drawing out toxins from infected tissues.
  • Vitamin K improves wound clotting.

In addition to these compounds, chewing the leaf releases beneficial enzymes not found in tinctures or salves.

The combination of anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, tissue regenerating, and antimicrobial effects make plantain an effective natural treatment for mild to moderate tooth infections when applied topically as a poultice.

How to Make a Plantain Poultice

Making a plantain poultice is simple with just a few ingredients:


  • Fresh or dried plantain leaves
  • Water
  • Mortar and pestle or blender
  • Cotton pad or gauze (optional)


  1. Take 3-5 fresh leaves or 1⁄4 cup dried leaves and crush or grind into a paste.
  2. If using dried leaves, add just enough water to make a thick consistency.
  3. For fresh leaves, chew thoroughly until saturated with saliva.
  4. Apply the paste or chewed leaves directly to the infected tooth and surrounding gum area.
  5. Place a cotton pad or gauze over it to help keep it in place.
  6. Keep the poultice on for at least 1 hour, changing pads as needed.
  7. Reapply every 2-4 hours.

Make sure to use fresh plantain leaves whenever possible, as dried leaves lose some effectiveness. Grow your own plantain or harvest leaves from pesticide-free areas.

Side Effects and Precautions

When used appropriately, plantain poultices are generally safe with minimal risks. However, be aware of the following precautions:

  • Do not apply directly to irritated or damaged gums as it may sting.
  • Avoid getting plantain in eyes as it can cause irritation.
  • Discontinue use if skin irritation or rash occurs.
  • Only use externally – do not ingest plantain leaves.
  • Keep poultices away from open wounds or sores.
  • Seek emergency dental care for severe infections not relieved by plantain.

While allergic reactions are uncommon, check for plant sensitivity before first use by rubbing a small amount on your arm.

Talk to your dentist before using herbal remedies if you have any medical conditions or take medications that may interact.

When to Choose Plantain Poultices

Plantain offers a safe, natural way to treat minor tooth infections without antibiotics. Consider using plantain poultices for:

  • Mild tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Gum inflammation and swelling
  • Abscesses with localized swelling and drainage
  • Relief after dental procedures
  • Infections when you cannot immediately access dental care

Poultices reduce pain and fight infection until more definitive treatment is available. They carry little risk of side effects when used as directed.

However, plantain should not replace emergency dental care for serious infections involving the tooth’s root or nerve. Seek immediate treatment for severe symptoms like unbearable pain, pus, or fever.

While plantain has antimicrobial properties, severe infections often require antibiotic therapy prescribed by a dentist. Never rely solely on herbal remedies when dental intervention is needed.

The Takeaway

In summary, a plantain leaf poultice is an effective natural remedy that can provide temporary relief for mild to moderate tooth infections when applied topically. The anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and tissue healing benefits make plantain uniquely suited for treating gum swelling, abscesses, and post-procedure pain.

However, plantain poultices are not a cure-all. They should not replace necessary dental treatment for serious infections impacting the tooth’s nerve. Seek emergency care for any signs of a spreading infection.

When used properly and in moderation, plantain poultices are a safe, natural way to manage dental pain and inflammation until you can access professional dental treatment. With its history of traditional use, plantain remains a time-tested remedy for minor tooth infections.