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Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America Hardcover – March 14, 2017
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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An NPR Best Book of 2017
"Mary Otto, a former Washington Post reporter, doesn't just dwell on the numbers – she makes what could have been a turgid health policy tome spark with outrage over the stories of people who have suffered."
Winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize
"[Teeth is] . . . more than an exploration of a two-tiered system―it is a call for sweeping, radical change."
New York Times Book Review
[Otto infuses] what could be a mundane topic with quirky history, heart-wrenching real-life stories, and prose that is . . . poetic . . . this harrowing book pulls at the heartstrings. It’s a must-read for anyone who cares about public health policy."
"With many adults still uninsured, children’s dental care far from universal, and the future of government-supported health care unclear, Otto’s sobering report should not go unheeded."
"Otto’s well-reported and important book will arouse concern over the fact that dental health, which is so essential to our well-being, gets such short shrift, and, hopefully, help instigate reform."
"An astute examination of the complex, insular business of oral health care."
"Mary Otto hits us right in the faceour teethwith this important book. The lack of dental care for millions of Americans is a national shame. Teeth breaks new ground in the canon of books about poverty. It should be read by anyone concerned about the class divide in the U.S."
Dale Maharidge, author of And Their Children After Them, winner of the 1990 nonfiction Pulitzer Prize
"I can’t remember the last time I read a book that so brilliantly yokes physiological, political and cultural systems. Rife with discovery, and a spur to social action, Mary Otto’s book is a beautifully readable and essential testament for these times."
Mary Cappello, author of Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration, and the Curious Doctor who Extracted Them
"Mary Otto brings history, policy and painful personal realities together in this compelling and engaging book about our nation’s highly preventable epidemic of oral disease. Teeth should be read by every policy maker and health professional who believes we can and must act to reduce the current barriers to dental care."
Louis W. Sullivan, MD, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 19891993, and chairman of the Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions
"Who eats too much sugar, leading to dental trauma? Primarily the poor. Who cannot sleep because of continuing dental pain and no available dental care? Primarily the poor. Even with Medicare and Medicaid, dental care has remained a stepchildand these programs are in jeopardy now. The teeth are no match for . . . a life of poverty,’ Otto says. More teeth failure and its consequences are on their way."
"Here’s a book that will enlighten you, upset you, and give you hope. I highly recommend it."
Bob Herbert, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos and former Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times
"Mesmerizing and important. Mary Otto’s unflinching work on the miserable state of oral health in America gnaws at you like a toothache."
Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-8)
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I can suggest three additional chapters to cover issues that were either avoided or neglected:
1.) "Access to care" is a euphemism which really means, "who covers the cost". So who does? Can anyone cover the cost of neglect or ignorance?
2.) "Organized dentistry" is consistently and repeatedly characterized as being self-serving if not profiteering. (Just wait until corporations and venture capitalists take over the practice of dentistry!) Yet the two things dentists CANNOT ORGANIZE around are fees and 3rd party ("insurance") participation. The FTC uses impressive intimidation tactics to squash all such discussion within the profession. The profession which must lead to solve the problem.
3.) There is no realistic discussion about what "dental insurance" really is. Is it really insurance? Does the industry behave monopolistically by fixing fees? Is it more like a cartel? It may have been illuminating to have legal analysis of participation contracts, intimidation tactics and government collusion. All of this adds huge unnecessary cost to the delivery of care.
I urge you to read this book, brush and floss diligently and require your children to do the same! 95% of dental diseases and disorders are preventable with simple, inexpensive, responsible behavior. Take care of yourself. Be a good patient. Dental disease could go away.
Of course I know that we should take care of our teeth, but what about those who don't have access to proper care or find themselves unable to care for them the way they should? The book shows us the serious consequences that can come from neglect and what happens when the proper care is not available.
A real wake-up call for us all as to why we should be concerned with more than how straight and white our teeth are, this book shows us that there are important reasons as to why we should care about the health of our teeth.