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

Michigan joins ranks of states allowing use of dental therapists

Photo: ktpupp via Flickr

Michigan has become the latest state to approve the use of mid-level dental providers — dental therapists — as part of an effort to expand oral health care to communities that have long lacked it.

Outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation authorizing the new provider model in late December.

In a statement, Snyder said that dental therapists would serve as “a unique tool to target the currently underserved populations in our state.” Continue reading

Researchers see potential for teledentistry to address disparities in care

Photo: Matt Madd via Flickr

Telehealth technologies are on the rise, connecting patients and providers, and expanding access to crucial health services that can be scarce and sometimes difficult to reach. Thanks to digital innovations, high-risk infants and stroke patients are receiving specialty care remotely. People coping with anxiety and depression are benefiting from therapist-supported internet cognitive behavioral therapy.

In the field of oral health, teledentistry is proving increasingly useful too, according to the December issue of Health Affairs that explored the transformative potential of telehealth technologies. Continue reading

CDC study suggests many kids using excess toothpaste

Photo: Josh Mazgelis via Flickr

The good news is that nearly 80 percent of American kids are brushing their teeth by the age of 1, according to federal data.

The bad news is that nearly 40 percent of them may be using too much toothpaste, new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests.  Continue reading

Texas prisoners denied dentures; 3D printing might change that

Photo: Gary Thomson via Flickr

Over the course of the past year, more than two dozen Texas inmates contacted the Houston Chronicle with grim stories of their life behind bars —without teeth.

Some choked on their food. Others subsisted on pureed meals. They shared their medical records and their grievances. They told the newspaper that their pleas for dentures had gone unanswered by prison officials. Continue reading

Find out what an oral health report card says about your state

Photo: Kate Sumbler via Flickr

Oral health can offer useful insights into a state’s livability.

That is a key message contained in WalletHub’s new report card: 2019’s States With the Best & Worst Dental Health.

This is the third year that the personal finance website has delved into dental care, crunching data from federal and nonprofit sources to come up with its rankings. Continue reading

Forensic odontologist faces grim task of identifying wildfire victims

In the wake of California’s latest spate of devastating wildfires, teams of forensic specialists have faced the grim task of assigning names to victims whose remains are brought to the morgue in Sacramento from the site of the Camp Fire in Butte County.

Sometimes, the specialists have mere fragments of the dead to work with. And sometimes those fragments are teeth, or bits of dental crowns or fillings. Continue reading