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.

Reporter uncovers ‘painful mistakes’ in one state’s handling of dentist errors

Arthur Kane

Arthur Kane

Over five months, Arthur Kane, an investigative reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, immersed himself in the workings of the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners.

Kane combed through state audits and internal documents and delved into the stories of patients who were left suffering by dentists who were allowed to keep practicing. He weighed troubling allegations raised by a local dental society. In October, he emerged with a six-part series, “Painful Mistakes.” Continue reading

Study documents disparities that contribute to late diagnosis of oral cancer

OralCancerScreening

Photo: Stephanie Young Merzel via Flickr

Research has long shown that Americans from minority groups and those with a lower socioeconomic status are less likely to get routine dental visits than patients who are white and more affluent. A new study finds that even when minorities or those who are poorer and less educated do receive oral health services, they are less likely to receive oral cancer (OC)screenings that could lead an early diagnosis. Continue reading

Variety of measures seek to address vaping safety concerns

Vaping concerns

Photo: Vaping360 via Flickr

Concerns about e-cigarette safety, elevated by an outbreak of illnesses and deaths, continue to roil Washington, D.C.

Leading calls for action have focused upon measures that could stem the rise of vaping among young people. Federal data indicate that 27.5% of high school students now regularly use e-cigarettes. More than 5 million American youths are now vaping, up from more than 3.6 million in 2018, according to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey. Continue reading

Vermont moving forward on creating dental therapist training program

Dental workStates across the country are moving ahead with laws aimed at putting dental therapists to work.

Legislators and health advocates hope the mid-level provider model will serve as a cost-effective way of getting dental care to historically underserved communities across the U.S. Continue reading

Review-Journal investigation chronicles allegations against dental board

Dental tools

Photo by Jan van Broekhoven via Flickr

Over recent years, the Nevada Board of Dental Examiners has weathered plenty of criticism. Two governors have singled out the professional licensing board for scrutiny. State audits, including one released in June, have raised troubling questions about accountability and ethical lapses by the dental board, which is funded by professional licensing fees and charged with practitioner oversight and the protection of patients across the state.

Along the way, an ongoing feud between the dental board and the Las Vegas Dental Association kept tensions simmering. Then, a five-month investigation by the Las Vegas Review-Journal helped bring the dental board’s troubles to a boiling point. Continue reading

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