In a report on infant mortality and other health issues in Stanislaus County, California, the Modesto Bee has revealed that 11 per cent of children screened in the area had cavities serious enough to impair their ability to eat.
It also cited a report from the Children Now Oral Health Policy Brief which found that 18 per cent of premature births in the country were attributable to poor oral health in the mother.
Apparently gum disease - which has been linked to premature labor - and cavities are "chronic ailments" for thousands of Stanislaus residents.
The county's infant mortality rate is 7.3 per 1,000 births, compared with the state-wide rate of 5.3 and the national rate of 6.9.
A report from the public health division of the Health Services Agency suggests that a combination of poor education, lack of access to medical facilities, personal behavior and poverty are to blame for this sorry state of affairs.
Socially disadvantaged children also tend to have limited access to orthodontists, despite potentially needing the specialist treatment they provide.
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