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Mary Otto’s “Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America” walks the fine line of being both well-researched and informative as well as an engaging page-turner. This comes as no surprise since Mary Otto has been writing for over eight years on social issues, including health care and poverty and she is the oral health topic leader for the Association of Health Care Journalists

As someone who is not a clinician, I still learned so much from the book and think that it is something that everyone should read. 

Here are my top ten reasons: 

1. The book is full of surprising dental facts, so you will always have something to talk about at parties. For example, did you know that cotton candy was created by a dentist and that it was originally called fairy floss?


2. While reading the book, you will come to understand how privilege and access to oral health care are intertwined. 


3. You can impress your friends with your new-found knowledge of the history of oral health. Did you know the first dental school was in America?  Baltimore College of Dental Surgery.


4. “Teeth” not only confronts you with the problems that currently exist in the oral health world but will also suggest multiple solutions.


5. You will learn about the $110 billion cosmetic dentistry industry and how that money is spent. Did you know that some people shave their gums to reveal more enamel? 


6. You will understand the importance of oral health in relation to overall health, as you learn the stories of people who have died from oral lesions that moved to their brain.


7. “Teeth” is easy to read. It isn’t written to be confusing or overly technical, it presents the content in a straightforward and enjoyable way. As someone who does not have a clinical background, I am easily able to comprehend and enjoy the book. 


8. You will learn that tons of people are living in constant pain due to a toothache, and why they accept that as their reality. 


9. “Teeth” will either give you the necessary verbiage and understanding to strengthen your arguments for oral health or it will open your eyes to something worth fighting for. 


10. You will be inspired by the people who are dedicating their lives to fighting for preventive health care in communities often overlooked.

Sydney Bernal

Author Sydney Bernal

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