Stats and Data

Measuring Oral Health in North Carolina

Monitoring the oral health status of communities is a core function of a state oral health program and is similar to a dentist completing a dental examination on a patient. The Oral Health Section (OHS) conducts oral health assessments on groups of individuals to determine the overall oral health of a community, identify unmet dental needs and connect individuals to necessary dental care. The data from these assessments are also used by OHS and other partners to develop, implement and evaluate programs and policies that prevent oral diseases and promote optimal oral health for North Carolina residents. 

Reports and Snapshots

State and Regional Data

OHS conducts annual Kindergarten oral health assessments in a sample of approximately 130 NC elementary schools. A systematic probability proportional-to-size sample of public elementary schools is drawn every five years from the complete list of NC public elementary schools. Schools are systematically selected from each of 10 regions based on kindergarten enrollment and Economically Disadvantaged Status. This selection method ensures that the assessment data accurately reflect the oral health status of kindergarteners in each region and ultimately the entire state of NC. The data are intended to present the oral health status of all NC kindergarten children, not just the neediest of children. NOTE: The final sample of schools will not include all counties in any given region, nor all schools in any given county.

OHS also conducts oral health assessments in Special Populations on a five-year rotating schedule. These populations include: 

  • Older adults
  • Pregnant individuals
  • Third grade children
  • Preschool children
  • High school youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities
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These reports address issues and concerns about oral health in North Carolina and nationally.

Healthy NC 2020 Updates - Oral Health, July 2013

The July 2013 Healthy NC 2020 Update (PDF, 319 KB) reports on the status of oral health in North Carolina as it relates to the objectives of the Healthy North Carolina 2020: A Better State of Health plan for NC public health initiatives.

March / April 2012 - North Carolina Medical Journal

The March/April 2012 issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal policy forum focuses on initiatives that promote oral health and on challenges the state currently faces. Commentaries discuss new practice models and trends in dental practice, dentist workforce numbers, the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine education model, and insurance innovation in dental coverage. Several articles focus on access to oral health care in specific populations including children, adult Medicaid recipients, and people with special needs.

2010 Special Care Oral Health Services: A North Carolina Commitment

The 2010 Special Care Oral Health Services: A North Carolina Commitment (PDF, 109KB) is a report from the Special Care Dentistry Advisory Group.  It examines the current dental care options for populations requiring special care dentistry and provides suggestions for ways to improve the availability of services to those needing such dental services. The Department reported the Advisory Group findings and recommendations to the North Carolina Study Commission on Aging and the Public Health Study Commission.

The Oral Health Section of the Division of Public Health was charged with identifying collaborative partners and coordinating preparation of this report. We worked in collaboration with the N.C Division of Medical Assistance, the N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine, the North Carolina Dental Society and current providers of special care dental services. The Special Care Advisory Group of providers and consumers, individuals and agencies met twice and developed the sixteen (16) recommendations described in this report.

County Data

As a service to counties that do not collect their own oral health data, OHS completes oral health assessments for all Kindergarteners in all schools in a given county every one to five years. This assessment data reflects the oral health status of kindergarteners in a given county. 

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For questions related to North Carolina oral health and related data, contact