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

Administration’s regulatory roadblocks stymie dental guidelines

Photo: David Joyce via Flickr

At more than 100,000 offices and clinics across America, dentists stay busy placing and removing amalgam fillings as they care for their patients.

Dental amalgam – a mixture of metals such as silver, tin, copper and zinc bound together by mercury – is valued by clinicians for its workability, low cost and strength. Regulated as a medical device, dental amalgam is considered safe for most patients over the age of 6. Continue reading

Uncertain outlook for pediatric dental benefits in a post-ACA world

Oral health advocates are closely watching Capitol Hill.

Many are worried about the future of children’s dental benefits under proposed Republican plans to repeal or replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Continue reading

Reporter explored efforts to make dental health a primary care priority

Elizabeth Whitman

Elizabeth Whitman

Millions of Americans face challenges in finding oral health care services. Creative efforts are underway to tackle the problem.

Some of the more exciting initiatives aim to broaden access by delivering dental care in community and primary care settings rather than traditional dental offices. In a recent feature for Modern Healthcare, quality and safety beat reporter Elizabeth Whitman looked at some of these approaches. Continue reading

Young father’s unexpected death highlights the dangers of dental infections

Vadim Anatoliyevich Kondratyuk and his daughters in an undated family photo before his death after complications from a dental infection.

Vadim Anatoliyevich Kondratyuk and his daughters in an undated family photo before his death after complications from a dental infection.

The recent story of a young California husband and father who died after suffering complications from a dental problem serves as a sad reminder of the important ties between oral health and overall health.

Vadim Anatoliyevich Kondratyuk, 26, a long-haul truck driver, was headed east to New York when he started feeling pain in the lower left side of his mouth.

“He pulled over in Oklahoma to see a dentist, who diagnosed an infection and prescribed antibiotics,” recounted health reporter Sammy Caiola in a Jan. 31 Sacramento Bee story. Continue reading

Certain ethnic groups still underrepresented in dental profession

Photo: HJ Barraza via Flickr

Photo: HJ Barraza via Flickr

America’s shortage of minority dentists is “large and growing” according to a recent study published in Health Affairs.

It would take nearly 20,000 additional black dentists, more than 31,000 Hispanic dentists and almost 3,000 additional American Indian and Alaska Native dentists to bring minority dentists into parity with their presence in the U.S. population. Among minority dentists, only Asians are overrepresented by percentage in the dental workforce, the study’s authors found. Continue reading