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FEATURING MARY OTTO – Dental care in the United States is often lumped in with the idea of cosmetic work. We have healthcare and then we have dental care – as if our teeth were separate from the rest of us. Dental care is expensive, prohibitive, and often incurs huge out-of-pocket expenses. Yet we judge our fellow Americans by the health and look of their teeth: straight, white teeth are a mark of health and prosperity while crooked, yellow teeth are a mark of poverty and neglect.

The struggle over oral health in the US is a serious matter, intimately linked to poverty and inequality.

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Mary Otto, oral health topic leader for the Association of Health Care Journalists. She was a writer about oral health, social issues, and poverty for the Washington Post for 8 years. Her new book is called Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and The Struggle for Oral Health in America.

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