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 and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Reporters find stories in efforts to address oral health disparities

Photo: J. Stephen Conn via Flickr

Poor Americans bear more than their share of oral disease. School children from low-income homes are more than twice as likely to suffer from tooth decay as their more affluent peers, according to federal data.

While Medicaid entitles poor children to dental care, adult dental benefits are treated as optional under the program. It is estimated that the majority of the nation’s 60 million elderly and/or disabled Medicare beneficiaries are dentally uninsured. Continue reading

CDC finds ‘chemical of concern’ in vaping-relating illness investigation

Vitamin E acetate, a common additive to dietary supplements and cosmetics, has been identified as a likely culprit in a national outbreak of deaths and serious illnesses traced to vaping.

Researchers tested fluid samples from the lungs of 29 patients with e-cigarette- or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI) that were submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Continue reading

Oral care access problems highlighted in California news collaborative project

Photo: A. Currell via Flickr

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, California has employed Medicaid expansion and the state health insurance marketplace – Covered California – to dramatically increase health care coverage. Yet, in spite of such efforts roughly 3 million state residents remain medically uninsured. Even more – an estimated 5.2 million Californians – are dentally uninsured.

In communities throughout the state, retirees and workers at small businesses are facing particular challenges in finding dental services, reported Yesenia Amaro of The Fresno Bee and Nicole Hayden of the (Palm Springs) Desert Sun in a recent story. Continue reading

HHS targets oral care gaps in ‘health infrastructure’ awards

Photo: Travis Wise via Flickr

More than $85 million in new federal awards will help health care centers from Aniak, Alaska, to Miami Gardens, Fla., increase access to dental care in their communities.

The awards of up to $300,000 each will enable 298 federally funded clinics to start or expand oral health care services. The money will be used to buy and install dental and X-ray equipment, train staff, renovate facilities and purchase mobile dental units. Continue reading

UN, medical journal highlight oral care as a global public health challenge

Photo: World Bank Photo Collection via Flickr

Painful and debilitating oral diseases such as tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancers are estimated to impact more than 3.5 billion people across the globe. Yet nations have almost universally failed to grapple with this health crisis, an international team of experts has concluded.

In the first article in a two-part series, led by researchers at the University College London and published by The Lancet, members of the team explore the extent of the epidemic, which burdens nearly half the world’s population. Continue reading

Report shows improvement in dental health but highlights disparities

Photo: Pedro Presilha via Flickr

Across the U.S., tooth decay remains widespread. Poor and minority Americans continue to be disproportionately burdened by disease. But in recent years, some progress has been made in addressing oral health disparities and reaching vulnerable children with needed dental services, federal data show.

According to newly released findings from the 2011-16 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES): Continue reading