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

Cut in Kentucky’s Medicaid dental benefits creates chaos for patients, providers

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s decision this month to cut dental and vision benefits for about 460,000 state Medicaid beneficiaries is taking a toll on providers and patients in the state.

Since the Republican governor made his announcement in early July, Jessica Clark-Boyd, who is the office manager for Healthy Smiles, a dental practice in Prestonsburg, has had to reschedule dozens of patient appointments for next month in hopes the benefits eventually will be restored. Continue reading

Study looks at media coverage of water fluoridation efforts

Photo” Christopher Irwin via Flickr

Last fall, oral health advocates joined a successful push to save a city water fluoridation ordinance in Rugby, N.D.

Meanwhile, in Buda, Texas, voters rejected a measure that would have reinstated water fluoridation in their Austin suburb. Continue reading

Unlikely coalition expands use of dental therapists in Arizona

Photo: Liz West via Flickr

A bill recently signed into law by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey opens the way for dental therapists to begin providing services in tribal health centers, safety net clinics and other public health settings across the state.

Diverse supporters of the change ranged from health advocacy groups and tribal organizations to the libertarian Goldwater Institute, which issued the report, “The Reform That Can Increase Dental Access and Affordability in Arizona.” Continue reading

Caution required when discussing associations between oral and overall health

The mouth is connected to the body.

Yet much remains unknown about the subtle workings of that connection.

Research continues to identify associations between oral and systemic conditions. But it is too soon to draw conclusions about possible causal relationships between maladies such as gum disease and cancer, warn the authors of a June guest editorial in the Journal of the American Dental Association. Continue reading

Study of decade of data backs argument for community water fluoridation

Photo: Jonathan Cohen via Flickr

Children living in counties with fluoridated water have significantly less tooth decay than those living in counties that lack water fluoridation programs, according to a newly published large-scale study.

Reduced decay rates were most pronounced in the primary teeth of children living in fluoridated counties. Yet community water fluoridation (CWF) also was credited with conferring a meaningful level of protection to the permanent teeth of children and adolescents. Continue reading