The lack of dental care can have far-reaching consequences. For young children missing front teeth as a result of poor dental care, the problem may make it difficult to learn new speech patterns because those children lack the teeth against which they need to place their tongue to form the sounds properly. The inability to pronounce words impedes a child's ability to do well in school.
For school-age children, a long-neglected toothache can turn into an emergency room visit and missed school days.
For men released from prison and searching for a good job, missing or malformed teeth are an impediment to finding a job. The first impression a job-seeker makes (including a pleasant smile) is critical in the hiring decision.
And these are just some of the people hurt by the lack of readily available and affordable dental care.
It is time we did more to help the people so adversely affected by our health care system.
Jean Patterson Cushman, Baltimore
The writer is executive director of Episcopal Community Services of Maryland.
Arabs use Israel as easy scapegoat
The figures cited in the column "Does the conflict between Palestinians, Israelis still matter?" (Commentary, July 6) suggest that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict dominates the thinking of a majority of the Arabs polled in the nations studied.
Perhaps those polled should have a better exposure to the history of the conflict, including the expulsion of nearly 1 million Jews from Arab nations after the Arab world's failed attempt to eliminate Israel in 1948.
If the Arabs of these nations would spend more time in bettering their own lives and bringing their standard of living up to that of Israel, perhaps their concerns about the Israeli-Arab conflict would lessen.
Unfortunately, instead of trying to improve economic conditions at home, the leaders of many Arab nations look for a convenient scapegoat for their troubles and have chosen Israel to fill that role.
Nelson Marans, Silver Spring
Nothing lawless about legal guns
How can anyone suggest, as the writer of the letter "Ruling may add to gun violence" (July 5) does, that a ruling allowing lawful gun ownership will cause America to evolve into a more lawless country?
The writer also claims the Supreme Court's ruling in the Washington gun case "has opened a new can of worms."
Soon law-abiding Washington residents will at long last, and once again, have the means to defend themselves in their own home by owning a registered revolver that they will be able to keep loaded and ready for self-defense.
This civil right was stripped from them by the overzealous Washington elitists who either have armed police or armed private security at their beck and call.
The unconstitutional Washington law made ordinary, law-abiding citizens an unarmed target for violent criminals.
Charles Guggenheimer, Windsor, Pa.