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

Refugees face special challenges in maintaining oral health

Photo: John M via Flickr

Among the many needs of refugees newly-arrived in the United States, dental care can be particularly difficult and pressing one to obtain.

Fleeing lives of repression and trauma, some refugees have never had access to routine oral care. Continue reading

Report: Pregnant women have harder time obtaining dental care, regardless of income

Photo: NIAID via Flickr

There is a shortage of state and national data on the subject, but studies suggest that women face unique barriers in obtaining dental services during pregnancy, according to a new issue brief from the nonprofit Children’s Dental Health Project (CDHP).

Experts agreed that “preventive, diagnostic, and restorative dental treatment is safe throughout pregnancy and is effective in improving and maintaining oral health.” Continue reading

New report lays out challenges in expanding practice of dental hygienists

Photo: Conor Lawless via Flickr

An estimated 61 percent of low-income children — roughly 6.5 million kids — lack dental sealants that could help protect their teeth from decay, according to federal research.

School sealant programs have been shown effective in getting preventive treatments to children who might otherwise go without. Continue reading

Military retiree dental program changes name and administrator

Photo: George Lezenby via Flickr

Participants in a dental benefit plan for U.S. military retirees will need to take action soon to hold onto coverage.

The TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP), which now covers 1.6 million military retirees and family members, is shutting down at the end of the year. Continue reading

Connecticut cracks down on dentist for overtreating toddler

Photo: hinterlens via Flickr

Following a two-year investigation by state health officials, the Connecticut State Dental Commission has voted to discipline a dentist for performing unnecessary work on a toddler.

In the 2016 complaint that spurred an inquiry by the state Department of Public Health (DPH), the child’s mother said she had agreed to allow dentist Ammar Idlibi to place a crown on one of her 3-year-old daughter’s teeth. Continue reading

Inspector’s report suggests potential for vape shop quality control issues

Photo: Brad Wilmot via Flickr

A recent report on the results of a series of unannounced “vape shop” visits by federal inspectors raises questions about quality-assurance in the preparation of some e-cigarette products.

Vape shops typically sell products, including electronic nicotine delivery devices and “e-liquids” solutions that are atomized by heating elements within the devices. When inhaled, the resulting vapor delivers nicotine, flavorings and other additives to the user. Continue reading