CareQuest Institute Warns About At-Home Dental Remedies

CareQuest Institute for Oral Health
CareQuest Institute


As the use of dangerous at-home health remedies continues to gain traction on social media, CareQuest Institute for Oral Health, a leading national nonprofit focused on creating a more accessible, equitable, and integrated oral health system, is warning people about the dangers of treating oral pain at home. The new report reveals that more than half (53.8%) of adults in the US do not have consistent access to dental care and may resort to self-prescribed home remedies, which are not always safe. In fact, half of the adults who experienced an oral health problem in the last year used a home remedy to try to alleviate the problem.

CareQuest Institute

CareQuest Institute analyzed data from its State of Oral Health Equity in America survey, revealing insights into home remedies used by consumers. The most common 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.

“We’ve seen an uptick of potentially dangerous at-home dental care trends across social media, and our data support the fact that many people resort to home remedies, often because they cannot access routine care,” said Kelly Schroeder, health scientist and dental hygienist at CareQuest Institute. “Remedies that mask pain are delaying having a larger problem such as an infection being treated properly. It’s critical that people seek care and advice from a trusted dental professional for their oral health issues.”

The report reveals additional insights, 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 identify 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%).

When people don’t have a dental home where they receive regular, preventive dental care, both oral health and overall health can easily deteriorate. One important part of the solution is to increase dental insurance coverage through employer-sponsored plans as well as by strengthening and protecting adult dental benefits within Medicaid and Medicare.

One recent study showed that Medicaid, even with its limited dental coverage, significantly improved adults’ access to and utilization of dental services, compared to those who lack medical coverage. It’s important for people to have access to a dental home where safe, effective, and personalized home care guidance is provided to prevent individuals from using unsafe home remedies.

Read the full report here.

About CareQuest Institute for Oral Health

CareQuest Institute for Oral Health is a national nonprofit championing a more equitable future where every person can reach their full potential through excellent health. We do this through our work in philanthropy, analytics and data insights, health transformation, policy and advocacy, and education as well as our leadership in dental benefits and innovation advancements. We collaborate with thought leaders, health care providers, patients, and local, state, and federal stakeholders, to accelerate oral health care transformation and create a system designed for everyone.

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