Skip all navigation Skip to page navigation
NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC Division of Public Health
N.C. Public Health Home

About Us

Overview of the North Carolina Oral Health Section

The Oral Health Section (OHS) provides dental health prevention and education services for the children of North Carolina. The ongoing dental health surveillance activities of the OHS provide the only database of children’s dental health status in most counties.

The OHS provides direct prevention services, such as dental screenings in elementary schools, placement of dental sealants, and coordinating fluoride mouthrinse activities in the classroom. We also provide direct oral health education to students caregivers, and health care providers in addition to providing resources for parents, teachers and health educators in most counties. In addition to these direct services, the OHS supports community health initiatives by providing consultation to local agencies in areas such as dental clinics and community water fluoridation.

Oral Health Section public health dental hygienists are located in most of the counties in the state to provide education and prevention services to their local communities.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic infectious disease of childhood, more common than asthma. Currently, 37 percent of children entering kindergarten have already been affected by tooth decay. Most dental disease can be prevented with regular brushing and flossing, regular dentist visits, protecting teeth with sealants and fluorides, and a healthy, low-sweets diet.

This link provides a one page summary of Oral Health Section activities, and the scope of our statewide efforts to prevent dental disease in North Carolina.

Mission/Strategic Plan

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Vision Statement:

All North Carolinians will enjoy optimal health and well-being

N.C. DHHS Mission Statement:

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with its partners, protects the health and safety of all North Carolinians and provides essential human services.

N.C. OHS Focus:

To promote conditions in which all North Carolinians can achieve oral health as part of overall health.  To work towards eliminating disparities in oral health by using best practices to:

  • Reduce oral diseases through prevention, education, and health promotion services
  • Monitor the public's oral health
  • Promote access to dental care
  • Provide professional education

N.C. OHS Motto:

North Carolina children – cavity-free forever.

People We Serve:

  • Children
  • Adults who influence the health of children
  • Healthcare providers

We work towards this focus in partnership with:

  • Healthcare professionals and other professional organizations
  • Organizations that support improved health in their communities
  • Individuals who care about our children's health

*The Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors external link (ASTDD) in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Division of Oral Health external link defines a Best Practice Approach as a public health strategy that is supported by evidence for its impact and effectiveness.  Evidence includes research, expert opinion, field lessons and theoretical rationale.

Dental Public Health in your Community

Dental public health is the science and art of preventing and controlling dental diseases and promoting dental health through organized community efforts.  It is that form of dental practice which serves the community as the patient rather than the individual.  It is concerned with the dental education of the public, with applied dental research, and with the administration of group dental care programs as well as the prevention and control of dental diseases on a community basis.”  Burt BA, Eklund SA, Dentistry, Dental Practice, and the Community, 6th Edition, 2005, pg. 40. 

History of Dental Public Health in North Carolina

The N.C. Oral Health Section is proud of the long history of dental public health in North Carolina.  North Carolina has the oldest dental public health program in the country.  Our program is known nationally for being a leader in public health dentistry and for it many accomplishments. Ready NC Connect NC