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

From a veteran Washington Post journalist, the view from inside America’s mouth—and what our teeth reveal about inequality today

"Show me your teeth," the great naturalist George Cuvier is credited with saying, "and I will tell you who you are." In this shattering new work, 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 America’s silent epidemic of oral disease, exposing the hidden connections between tooth decay and stunted job prospects, low educational achievement, social mobility, and the troubling state of our public health. Otto’s 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; Deamonte Driver, the young Baltimore boy whose tragic death from an abscessed tooth sparked Congressional hearings; a marketing guru who offers advice to dentists on how to push new and expensive treatments and how to keep Medicaid patients at bay; and a huge range of experts, from paleoanthropologists to public health specialists, who untangle the complex history of oral health and dental care.

Muckraking and paradigm-shifting, Teeth exposes for the first time the extent and meaning of our oral health crisis. In the tradition of Jessica Mitford, Mary Roach, and Mark Kurlansky, it joins the small shelf of books that change the way we view society and ourselves—and will spark an urgent conversation about why our teeth matter.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620971444
Publisher: New Press, The
Publication date: 03/14/2017
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 62,513
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(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, D.C.

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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