Category Archives: Oral health

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

As CHIP funding runs out, at least one state begins alerting parents

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Data compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation show that when the Children’s Health Insurance Program was enacted in 1997, the uninsured rate among children (those individuals under age 18) was 14 percent and that it reached an all-time low of 5 percent last year.

Officials in 12 states may start sending letters to parents this week, alerting families that funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program is running out, according to reporting by Colby Itkowitz and Sandhya Somashekhar in The Washington Post. In Colorado, letters went out in the mail today.

“Many states have enough money to keep their individual programs afloat for at least a few months, but five could run out in late December if lawmakers do not act,” Itkowitz and Somashekhar wrote. “Others will start to exhaust resources the following month.” Continue reading

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

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.

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