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NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC Division of Public Health
N.C. Public Health Home

Our Efforts to Promote and Encourage Access to Dental Care


The N.C Oral Health Section provides preventive dental health direct services in all 100 counties. These services include targeted fluoride mouth rinse and dental sealant projects; dental assessments, screenings, and referrals; school and community educational services; and consultation services. Additionally, the N.C. Oral Health Section helped local agencies to expand and maintain their Safety Net Dental Clinics. The Safety Net Dental Clinics include public and private non-profit facilities providing ongoing, comprehensive dental care to low-income patients. The N.C. Oral Health Section supports expansion and operation of the Safety Net Dental Clinics, works with various public and private organizations, and works to increase access in a number of ways.

Current Efforts

  • A Special Care Dentistry program is under development. By training staff of nursing homes and assisted living facilities to promote and encourage oral health behaviors, we hope to make oral health a priority, and prevent problems that rapidly arise with neglected hygiene.

  • Into the Mouths of Moms pilot program aims to integrate perinatal dental and medical systems in a co-located public health site. With success, this program could expand across the state and into others. This collaborative practice pilot is modeled after the state’s successful Into the Mouths of Babes program.

  • In 2010, the "Special Care Oral Health Services: A North Carolina Commitment, Report from the Special Care Dentistry Advisory Group" was presented to the N.C. Public Health Task Force, the N.C. Public Health Study Commission and the N.C. Commission on Aging.
  • Oral health risk assessment and referral links children needing dental care with providers willing to treat them.

  • Technical assistance is provided for establishing new clinics and supporting the operation of existing safety net clinics. The Oral Health Section's technical assistance efforts complement those of the N.C. DHHS Office of Research, Demonstrations and Rural Health Development.

  • Calibrated oral health assessment data have been and continue to be critical in demonstrating the need for dental care safety net facilities. Community leaders also look to this assessment data to estimate the ongoing impact of safety net facilities and to monitor a community's progress in improving the oral health of its citizens.

  • Into the Mouths of Babes - The N.C. Oral Health Section continues as a partner in the "Into the Mouths of Babes" oral screening and fluoride varnish program, training medical professionals to provide oral preventive care to the youngest Medicaid-covered children.

  • Carolina Dental Home was a pilot program in Craven, Jones and Pamlico counties. Physicians and dentists work together to provide dental care for Medicaid children from birth to three years old. This is a successful program, but it has not grown from its roots of three counties. A HRSA grant is in place to oversee partnering general dentists with medical providers.┬áRecent changes in private dental insurance coverage in North Carolina make this a particularly good time to focus on growth.