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At the children’s dental clinic that Dr. John Blake runs in Long Beach, children as young as 2 or 3 show up with blackened teeth and swollen faces, unable to eat because of the pain and in need of whole mouth restorations. In California, tooth decay in children outpaces the national average. Hoping to save both teeth and money, the state is addressing the problem with an overhaul of Denti-Cal, part of the Medi-Cal health system for low-income Californians.

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