While there have been efforts to increase the number of practicing dentists in the state, population growth has outpaced the profession. In 2007, N.C. posted its first decline in the ratio of dentists to residents.
Prior to those numbers, the state's ratio of dentists to residents was already below the national average.
A report by the Cecil G. Sheps Center at UNC-Chapel Hill shows that four of North Carolina's 100 counties have no dentists. Five more rural counties have dentists who are at retirement age. In addition, those who can't afford care wind up in hospital emergency rooms.