Author Archives: Mary Otto

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health, curating related material at She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at

Calls growing to add dental benefit to Medicare Part B

Photo: Moodboard via Flickr

Photo: Moodboard via Flickr

A quarter of a million Americans are retiring each month. Many are surprised to learn that Medicare does not include coverage for routine dental care. But could the nation’s health insurance program offer dental benefits? Should it?

There are important reasons to consider the idea, says Beth Truett, president and CEO of the nonprofit Oral Health America.

“More people are living longer. More people are keeping their teeth,” said Truett, who was featured in a recent AHCJ webcast. “Oral health is part of overall health.” Continue reading

San Jose, Calif., no longer nation’s largest city without fluoridated drinking water

Photo: Darwin Bell via Flickr

Photo: Darwin Bell via Flickr

It took engineering and fundraising efforts as well as years of work by oral health and children’s advocates, but the Santa Clara Water District is finally providing fluoridated tap water to large sections of San Jose, Calif.

The sprawling city, with a population of more than 1 million, had been known as the largest metropolitan jurisdiction in the nation that lacked a fluoridated drinking water program. The decay-fighting mineral will be phased into water supplies as upgrades to the city’s water treatment plants are completed. Continue reading

Briefing focuses on integration of medical, oral health care

Oral health may be essential to overall health but the enduring gap between dental care and medical care impacts everything from how care is accessed to how services are financed, from how providers are educated to how research is pursued.

For millions of Americans, dental care is harder to find and pay for than medical care. Physicians and dentists operate in separate systems and oral and medical services are rarely integrated. Continue reading

Expansion of dental care uncertain under new administration


Photo: Health Trust via Flickr

Amid promises to overturn the health care reform law and re-engineer Medicaid, voters swept Republicans into power in November. Oral health advocates now are wondering what lies ahead for efforts to expand access to dental services to poor, working and uninsured Americans.

Dental benefits were not exactly a high-profile topic in the campaign. More than 100 million Americans, including seniors, working-age adults and children still lack dental coverage according to the National Association of Dental Plans. Continue reading

Reporter: Oral health has become gateway to other issues on the beat

Paul Sisson

Paul Sisson

For low-income elders, dental care can be very hard to find. Medicare does not include routine dental benefits and seniors living on low or fixed incomes may lack the money to pay out of pocket for care.

Untreated tooth decay causes pain and contributes to tooth loss, poor nutrition, social isolation and declining overall health. Continue reading