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References and Statistics

Measuring Oral Health in North Carolina

Dental public health's "patient" is the community, so the Oral Health Section must survey individuals in a community to determine the overall oral health of that community.  The data from both epidemiological surveys and from school oral health assessments are used to provide baseline data for planning programs to prevent oral disease and to provide oral health education to our citizens.

Two Ways the Oral Health Section Measures the Health of a Community

statewide survey exam
school assessment
  1. Epidemiological Surveys: These surveys scientifically measure the quantity and types of oral disease in the state population. The Oral Health Section conducts these approximately every 15 years, and the most recent was during the 2003-2004 school year. Public health dentists and public health dental hygienists collect the data on a cross section of schoolchildren statewide.
  2. Targeted Oral Health Assessments: Each year elementary children and targeted adult populations participate in dental screenings, also called assessments. Public health dental hygienists screen for tooth decay and other disease conditions in individuals. Staff hygienists partner with nurses (in schools, assisted living facilities, nursing homes or local health departments) to refer those needing care to dental providers.

Calibrated Dental Assessments: As part of the School Oral Health Assessment for school children in Kindergarten and Fifth Grade, public health dental hygienists use a standardized method to measure specific oral conditions like tooth decay. Data from these standardized, or calibrated, screenings are used to monitor the status of oral health in North Carolina children. The table below provides links to recent county level school oral health assessment data:

N.C. Oral Health Assessment Data

The assessment data table above uses abbreviations for the oral conditions that are observed.

Below is a glossary of the abbreviations used in the tables:

Terms Used in Assessment Data:

  • fmt – filled and missing primary (baby) teeth
  • dt – decayed primary (baby) teeth
  • dmft – decayed, missing and filled primary (baby) teeth
  • FMT – filled and missing permanent (adult) teeth
  • DT – decayed permanent (adult) teeth
  • DMFT decayed, missing and filled permanent (adult) teeth