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.

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

Efforts to expand use of dental therapists making progress

Photo: Morgan Schwartz via Flickr

Connecticut has joined a growing list of states embracing dental providers as a way to expand access to care.

After a long debate, “a bill to allow the practice of dental therapy passed this year,” reported Ellen Andrews in an end-of-session summary of legislative action published by the nonprofit Connecticut Health Policy Project. Continue reading

Poll results support adding dental coverage to Medicare

Though about 60 million retired and disabled Americans depend upon Medicare for their health care coverage, the federal program has never included routine dental benefits.

A sizeable percentage of likely voters believe that should change, according to the results of a new poll. Continue reading

Decline in complete tooth loss for older adults spurs talk about access to care

More Americans are keeping their natural teeth throughout their lifetimes, federal research tells us.

Overall, the rate of U.S. adults who have experienced complete tooth loss fell from 9.3% in 2000 to 7% in 2017, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. The trend holds true across all age groups, researchers found. Continue reading

Fluoridation findings prompt measured response from professional organizations

Photo by mahalie stackpole via Flickr

As the editors of the prestigious medical journal anticipated, the newly published Canadian study is causing a stir.

The paper, which appears in JAMA Pediatrics links higher fluoride consumption by pregnant women with lower intelligence scores in their offspring. The findings represent the latest foray by researchers into fluoride safety, an emotionally fraught topic in both the U.S. and Canada.

The authors of the paper studied fluoride exposure for 512 mother-child pairs, about 40% of whom lived in fluoridated communities across six Canadian cities. They calculated fluoride levels in local water supplies and fluoride concentrations in the pregnant women’s’ urine.

Continue reading

Better understanding of ‘mouth microbes’ may improve oral health treatments

Photo: A.Currell via Flickr

An estimated 700 species of microbes thrive within the unique ecological niches found within the human mouth, including the hard surfaces of the teeth, soft linings of cheeks and pockets of the gums.

They live in complex communities, and when healthy, they co-exist in an intricate balance. But sometimes that equilibrium gets upset. Continue reading