Purpose: In response to concerns about current and future demands for specialized pediatric dental care in North Carolina, a survey of private pediatric dental practices was conducted.
Methods: Data were collected on the demographics and other practice variables. Information was also collected on the ages, caries activity, Medicaid status, estimated treatment needs, fluoridation status, and location of residence (urban/rural) of all new patients seen in each practice during three designated, consecutive days in November 1996.
Results: The survey response rate was 76%. The data indicated that most pediatric dentists in North Carolina are quite busy. A total of 519 new patients were seen during the three-day survey period. The mean age was 4.7 years and 22% had advanced caries. Forty seven percent were caries free. Most of the disease was found in the primary dentitions of young children.
Conclusions: The findings indicate that the specialized pediatric dental care system in North Carolina is operating close to its capacity and is overtaxed in many areas of the state.