Dental Danger: Home Remedies to Avoid When Awaiting Care

Published 05/18/2023

More than half (53.8%) of adults in the US do not have consistent access to dental care and may resort to home remedies, which are not always safe. In fact, according to a visual report from CareQuest Institute, half of adults who experienced an oral health problem in the last 12 months used a home remedy for the problem. 

DIY Dental Care — Safe or Dangerous? 

The report, compiled from data from the State of Oral Health Equity in America survey, shares additional insights into home remedies used by consumers, including: 

  • Those who had not had a dental visit in the last two years were 10% more likely to use dangerous home remedies than those who had a dental visit more recently. 
  • Those who smoke used one or more dangerous home remedies twice as often as those who do not smoke. 
  • Individuals who identified as Black (62.4%) and as two or more race/ethnicities (60.0%) reported that they used a home remedy for oral health symptoms more often than individuals identifying as white (49.5%), Hispanic (45.5%), Asian (42.9%), or “other” (47.6%).  
  • The majority of home remedies used by survey respondents are considered safe for short-term use (75%).  

Unsafe home remedies included tobacco poultice, pain medication prescribed for another purpose, illegal narcotics, a needle to lance a gum abscess, aspirin powder applied to the gums, and alcohol/spirits. Having a dental home where safe and effective home care guidance is provided can prevent individuals from using unsafe home remedies. 

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