Skip to main content

Oral Health Newsletter Volume 9

Chicago Department of Public Health School-Based Oral Health Program

The Chicago Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) School-Based Oral Health Program (SBOHP) participates in the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services' (HFS) All-Kids School-Based Dental Program. SBOHP has brought preventive oral health and case management services to more than 1.3 million Chicago public school Pre-K through 12th grade students since the program launched in 2000. If day cares or Head Start programs are interested in having a mobile prevention program visit, they can contact Ann Tuscher, Program Director – C D P H Maternal, Infant, Child, and Adolescent Health - Oral Health Programs, by email at Periodically, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Oral Health Section (OHS), and SBOHP coordinate quality assurance site reviews of the school-based mobile teams to calibrate reviewers and to share program improvement ideas. Pictured are Sheri Foran, IDPH OHS oral health consultant; Tuscher; and Joseluis Avalos, director of Program Operations with the Bureau of Maternal, Infant, Child, and Adolescent Health. The three recently observed and reviewed one of CDPH’s mobile dental teams.

From left to right: Foran, Tuscher, Avalos

The SBOHP aligns with Illinois’ Oral Health Plan and Healthy Chicago 2025 efforts and currently has 12 dental provider groups and 125 dental professionals providing dental exams, oral prophylaxis, fluoride varnish,

dental sealants, risk assessments, and case management to address necessary follow-up dental care needs.

In the 2021/2022 school year, 34,055 children participated in the program, and 75,283 sealants were placed. The program has expanded to 475 public schools, as preventive care remains crucial to reducing dental cavities, which are the most  ommon chronic disease among children.

A BIG THANK YOU to the school-based and mobile teams that go to where the need is!

SBOHP staff also emphasizes the importance of preventing oral health issues in the school-aged populations and appreciates the partnership between Chicago’s public schools and the HFS All-Kids School-Based Dental Program. This partnership provides evidence-based preventive dental care for eligible students, particularly those students from low-income families. The program’s efforts in prioritizing oral health prevention and early care lead to improved overall health and academic success for children.

SBOHP faces two major barriers -- parental understanding of Medicaid reimbursement rules and families' fear of not being able to see their dentist for follow-up care if they use the school program. Avalos and Tuscher said these barriers have impacted providers' ability to recover costs and have affected the population the SBOHP serves.

Oral Health Workforce Survey Report - August 2022

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is focused on the  expansion and support of the oral health workforce across the state and more specifically among Illinois’ most underserved communities. To this end, a multi-pronged strategic plan has been developed to increase the number and type of oral health providers and oral health services. To better understand the landscape of the oral health workforce in Illinois, IDPH deployed an Oral Health Workforce Survey in 2021/2022 to dentists and dental hygienists.

To achieve the highest number of responses, the survey was promoted by many stakeholders, including academic and professional society partners, and was paired with license renewal messaging by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Respondents answered questions about:

  1. Individual demographics
  2. Specialties
  3. Current and future plans to practice

In addition, respondents were asked questions about their current practice, including, but not limited to:

  • Practice location
  • Type
  • Size
  • Types of services
  • Populations served
  • Barriers to serving special populations

The full Oral Health Workforce Survey Report can be found on the IDPH website via this link, or go to the IDPH website ( and select Topics & Services > Prevention & Wellness > Oral Health > Oral Health Data > Publications > Oral Health Workforce Survey Report – August 2022.

Characteristics of Illinois Dental Practices

  • Private/group practice (83.4%); primarily solo (47.2%) or small group (43.6%).
  • Almost all provide direct patient care (99.4%), followed by administration (58.1%), and teaching (42.4%).
  • More than half (55.8%) indicated use of silverdiamine fluoride. Only 22.6% accept Medicaid and 66.6% serve children under the age of 3.
  • 13.7% have staff vacancies.
  • 5.5% had a public health collaborative agreement completed by a dental hygienist.
  • 22.6% were accepting Medicaid patients; 71.6% of which indicated accepting NEW Medicaid patients.
  • 91.9% were accepting new adult patients.
  • 66.6% were accepting children under 3 years old.

Assessing and addressing oral health workforce supply, distribution, and training needs as well as working to assure equitable access to individual oral health services in collaboration with partners are important components of these essential public health services. These activities are reflected in several of the Illinois Oral Health Plan IV objectives.

IOHP IV Objective 2.B.1.2.A.1. Improve understanding of current oral health workforce and needs at state and local levels.

IOHP IV Objective 2.A.6. Expand oral health professionals' understanding of population health issues (e.g., race/cultural issues, health disparities, inequities, and working with vulnerable populations).

IOHP IV Objective 2.A.8. Support oral health providers with increased professional training opportunities (e.g., behavioral/mental health issues, evidenced-based approaches in acute pain control, antibiotic use, trauma-informed care principles.

Visualizations - Illinois Oral Facts and Figures Youth, Adults, and During Pregnancy

Oral Health Needs Assessment and Plan 1 and 2

The Oral Health Section is again offering a grant opportunity for local health departments that have completed an Oral Health Needs Assessment and Plan 1 Grant (OHNAP-1) since 2018. The OHNAP-1 grant provided resources for communities to evaluate and to determine the oral health status of their jurisdiction through a comprehensive community-based assessment. This process produces action plans and/or next steps.

The Oral Health Needs Assessment and Plan-2 (OHNAP-2) will provide grantees with funding and technical assistance to move forward with action plans and/or the next steps forward.

OHS will work with the grantee to develop the individualized grant deliverables. Grantees will also develop a tracking system to report progress and to show the impact outcomes of the OHNAP-2.

The funds are made possible through the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant. Funding levels for OHNAP- 1 and 2 are $3,000 and $8,000 respectively. If interested in either opportunity, contact the Oral Health Section by email at