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.

Philly journalist discusses silver diamine fluoride and other children’s health issues

Anna Nguyen

A prominent pediatric dental organization recently issued guidelines for a treatment that can offer a painless, minimally invasive alternative to drilling and filling teeth.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has offered a “provisional recommendation” for the use of silver diamine fluoride (SDF) to halt and manage tooth decay in children.

The product, which is painted onto the diseased area of the tooth, been used in Japan for years but has only recently attracted the attention of U.S. healthcare providers. Continue reading

U.N. official’s tour explores impact of extreme poverty in the United States

Photo: Omar Bárcena via Flickr

During a two-week U.S. fact-finding tour, Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said he observed scenes of suffering from coast to coast: in homeless encampments in California, in storm-ravaged enclaves in Puerto Rico, and in marginalized communities of the deep South and West Virginia.

A shortage of healthcare, infrastructure and sanitation services in low-income and minority communities are taking a serious toll, Alston said during a Dec. 15 press conference in Washington, D.C., at the conclusion of the tour. Continue reading

Journal roundtable explores practices to reduce anesthesia-related deaths in pediatric dentistry

Photo: Mikael Wiman via Flickr

A small child is taken to a dental office for care. He is placed under sedation for the treatment of advanced tooth decay. He never wakes up.

The case, outlined in a recent “Ethics Rounds” commentary for the journal Pediatrics, bears a heartbreaking similarity to stories that sometimes lead the local news. Continue reading

New studies consider how oral flora can impact health of the entire body

Photo: mostly*harmless via FlickrFusobacterium nucleatum

The human mouth is home to a variety of ecological niches, inhabited by hundreds of microbial species.

Scientists are eager to learn more about that world and its dynamic population. They hope their study of the oral microbiome will eventually contribute to a deeper understanding of how oral flora contribute to health and disease.

One new study, recently published in Science, offers an example of the kind of work that is unfolding. Continue reading

New guidelines may encourage use of low-cost, painless dental treatment

A treatment that offers a painless, minimally-invasive alternative to drilling and filling teeth has gotten a boost from a prominent children’s dental organization.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has issued new guidelines for the use of silver diamine fluoride (SDF) for treating tooth decay in children and adolescents. Continue reading