Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America

Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America

by Mary Otto


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An NPR Best Book of 2017 that exposes our oral health crisis and the astonishing role that teeth and oral health play in our society

In this brilliant debut book, hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “a call for sweeping, radical change,” veteran health journalist Mary Otto looks inside America’s mouth, revealing unsettling truths about our unequal society.

Teeth takes readers on a disturbing journey into the role teeth play in our health and our social mobility. Otto “doesn’t just dwell on the numbers,” according to NPR, “she makes what could have been a turgid health policy tome spark with outrage over the stories of people who have suffered.” Her subjects include the pioneering dentist who made Shirley Temple and Judy Garland’s teeth sparkle on the silver screen; an up-and-coming beauty queen awarded thousands of dollars of free cosmetic dental care; and Deamonte Driver, a young Baltimore boy whose death from an abscessed tooth sparked congressional hearings.

Offering “an astute examination of the complex, insular business of oral health care” (Kirkus Reviews), Otto combines searing critique with forward-looking proposals for reform, “sympathetically explor[ing] a range of ideas for improving the current system” (New Republic). Muckraking and paradigm-shifting, Teeth exposes for the first time the extent and meaning of our oral health crisis.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620974827
Publisher: New Press, The
Publication date: 06/04/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 155,969
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Mary Otto is the oral health topic leader for the Association of Health Care Journalists. She began writing about oral health at the Washington Post, where she worked for eight years covering social issues including health care and poverty. She lives in Washington, DC.

Table of Contents

Preface v

Part I Bad Teeth

1 Beauty 3

2 Suffering 30

3 Emergencies 51

4 The World Beneath Our Noses 65

Part II The Dental Art

5 The Birth of American Dentistry 93

6 Separate Lives 113

7 Adventurers and Auxiliaries 133

8 The System 162

9 Color Lines 181

Part III A Sentinel Event

10 Deamonte's World 203

11 Riding into the Epidemic 223

12 Sons and Daughters of Chapin Harris 246

Acknowledgments 261

Notes 263

Index 281

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