Category Archives: Oral health

Aging population means dental care access issues becoming more acute

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 healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: lawrence_baulch via Flickr

As America’s population ages, the shortage of dental care for the nation’s elders presents a growing problem.

Many seniors lack public or private coverage that would help defray the cost of dental services, according to a new fact sheet from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

“Perhaps the single greatest barrier is the inability to afford care,” Pew noted in its brief. “Seniors with dental insurance are 2.5 times more likely than those without coverage to visit a dentist and about half of seniors lacked insurance in 2015.” Continue reading

Dental profession weighs in on the opioid abuse epidemic

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 healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: hjl via Flickr

In a “dear colleague” letter to dental professionals last month, American Dental Association President Carol Gomez Summerhays urged dentists to review their prescribing practices and more effectively counsel patients about the safe handling and use of medications, especially opioid painkillers.

Summerhays also urged dentists to consult databases maintained by state-run prescription drug monitoring programs that could help them identify “doctor-shopping patients” whose prescription histories may reveal drug-seeking behavior. Continue reading

Proposed rule change aims at making family dental coverage more affordable

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 healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

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Photo: Melissa Clark via Flickr

Oral health advocates are applauding a recently proposed federal rule they say would remove a significant financial barrier many parents face when shopping for affordable dental benefits for their children on health insurance marketplaces.

A rule change filed last month by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would adjust how premium tax credits are calculated to better ensure the credits can apply to stand-alone pediatric dental coverage purchased on exchanges. Continue reading

Texas child’s death during dental surgery reawakens ‘deadly dentistry’ debate

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 healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Daisy Lynn Torres

Daisy Lynn Torres

Several months after its seven-part Deadly Dentistry series, the Dallas Morning News is following the case of another child left dead after a dental visit.

Daisy Lynn Torres suffered complications from anesthesia while undergoing a procedure at an Austin dental office last spring, a medical examiner recently concluded. Now the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners has opened an investigation into the death of the 14-month old girl, Tom Steele reported July 15.

“Daisy went to Austin Children’s Dentistry on March 29 to have two cavities filled and was placed under general anesthesia,” Steele told readers. “A short time later she went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to a hospital where she died.” Continue reading

Check out this oral health reporting advice from an ‘investigative nutritionist’

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 healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Adam Rose via Flickr

Photo: Adam Rose via Flickr

Registered dietician, syndicated radio host and self-described “investigative nutritionist” Melinda Hemmelgarn has given a lot of thought lately to dental care and oral health.  A recent episode of her public radio show, Food Sleuth, features an interview with Jane Grover, a dentist and director of the American Dental Association’s Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations.

In the interview, Hemmelgarn and Grover also discussed useful tips for maintaining oral health including good brushing habits and the foods that are more harmful to teeth. Continue reading