A new study from UCLA researchers has one in four California having never seen a dentist.

There's a lot of illuminating, and heartbreaking findings in the study, published in the journal Health Affairs. There were significant disparities shown between races and whether the family had private insurance or some sort of public insurance such as Medicaid or CHIP:

For instance, 54 percent of privately insured children and 27 percent of publicly insured children had seen the dentist in the past six months, compared to 12 percent of children without dental coverage. (Fairly heroic on the part of the one-in nine uninsured families who managed to get their kids to the dentist.)

(There's no mention of other states because of wide variation in dental delivery and finance, making an apples-to-apples comparison difficult.)

Of course, if you've ever tried to sleep, eat, study or play with a bad toothache, you know it can be debilitating. So poor kids with poor dental health (made worse because many subsist on sugar-rich, inexpensive calories) wind up struggling in school. And then the story writes itself.

This is what the kids would call public policy fail.

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