The effect of a relatively common chronic disease, severe dental caries, affects young childrens' growth and well-being. Treating dental caries in pre-school children would increase growth rates and the quality of life of millions of children. Severe untreated dental caries is common in pre-school children in many countries. Children with severe caries weighed less than controls, and after treatment of decayed teeth there was more rapid weight gain and improvements in their quality of life. This may be due to dietary intake improving because pain affected the quantity and variety of food eaten, and second, chronic inflammation from caries related pulpitis and abscesses is known to suppress growth through a metabolic pathway and to reduce haemoglobin as a result of depressed erythrocyte production.