April 1, 2023

When you look in the mirror at your smile, what do you see? Do you see straight, white teeth, perfected by years of braces and retainers? Are your teeth a little crooked? Do you have gaps or maybe a few missing?
What our teeth look like can say a lot about class, wealth and beauty standards in the United States. About 60 million Americans live in areas with a shortage of dental care, and access to oral health care largely depends on economic status.
MPR News host Angela Davis discussed who can and cannot access oral health care in our country, and why Americans are so obsessed with perfect pearly whites.
Mary Otto is a health journalist and the author of the book “Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America.”
Dr. Karl Self is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, where he is the director of the Division of Dental Therapy and interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.
Dr. Prasida Khanal is the state oral health director for the Minnesota Department of Health.
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Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.
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