Category Archives: Oral health

Forensic odontologist faces grim task of identifying wildfire victims

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.

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

Oropharyngeal cancer a growing result of HPV’s spread

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: AJ Cann via Flickr

With about 14 million new infections a year, human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most prevalent sexually-transmitted virus in the United States.

HPV has long been linked to cervical cancer. Certain strains of the virus cause an estimated 12,000 cases of cervical cancer annually among women in the U.S. Now, rising rates of HPV-linked mouth and throat cancers – known as oropharyngeal cancers – are receiving increased attention, as are efforts to get Americans up to age 45 vaccinated to reduce the spread of HPV-related diseases. Continue reading

Free dental care day provides opportunity for broader examination of access to care

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: Rob Allen via Flickr

In recent coverage of a free dental care day for low-income Mainers, Portland Press Herald reporter Joe Lawlor explored some of the challenges that have shaped oral health access in the state.

As he noted in his piece, new Democratic governor Janet Mills is preparing to oversee an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program.

Continue reading

Aftermath of child’s death continues to highlight risks of pediatric dental anesthesia

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

A state jury found a former Hawaii dentist not guilty of manslaughter and other criminal charges related to the highly publicized death of a 3-year-old girl under her care.

It was the latest development in a nearly five-year-old case that focused attention on the potential risks to children who receive anesthesia or other sedation as part of a dental procedure. Continue reading

Maine’s Medicaid expansion won’t help those who need dental care

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.

Backers of Maine’s Medicaid expansion, approved by voters in 2017, have been locked in a court battle with outgoing Republican governor Paul LePage, an outspoken opponent of the step.

At the same time, Gov.-elect Janet Mills, a Democrat, has offered assurances that she will put the expansion into place “on day one” if it hasn’t been implemented by the time she assumes office in January, Joe Lawlor of the  Portland Press Herald reports.  Continue reading

Panelists explore what’s missing from Medicare

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

While Medicare may be a cornerstone of keeping older adults healthy and reducing poverty, it’s far from perfect. Closing huge gaps in coverage ­– some might argue chasms – could improve public health, reduce hospitalizations, help support cognitive function, maintain quality of life and save the health system millions of dollars. But it will literally take an act of Congress for anything to really change.

At October’s Gerontological Society of America Conference in Boston, experts at the “Medicare, What’s Missing” session examined links between systemic health and oral, vision and hearing health. They looked at some major policy gaps and potential fixes. While everyone agreed more needs to be done, true reform will likely happen by baby steps. Continue reading