Since the release of the first Surgeon General’s Report on oral health in 2000 (Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General), significant efforts have been made to improve the oral health of all Americans. The elimination of disparities in oral health among U.S. residents due to socioeconomic marginalization has become a priority. The importance of oral health as an essential component of general health has become a focus. For the first time ever, oral health has been made one of the nation’s health priorities in Healthy People 2020, the nation’s 10-year goals and objectives for health promotion and disease prevention. In 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released two important documents related to oral health: Oral Health in America and Improving Access to Oral Health Care for Vulnerable and Underserved Populations. Through these reports, authorities and experts have called upon community leaders in the nation to act on behalf of the most vulnerable and underserved populations in order to prevent oral disease, improve access, and promote oral health, thus reducing disparities in oral health. To answer the call and face the challenges that Chicago area residents face in accessing dental care, the Chicago Community Oral Health Forum (CCOHF) organized and convened its first Oral Health Summit. The purpose of this Summit was to discover avenues that will lead us to overcome disparities, promote oral health, and prevent dental disease in the Chicago area.
This Oral Health Plan is a working action plan created by public/private stakeholders in Chicagoland for its residents. This report is a product of the efforts and ideas of stakeholders in attendance at this Summit. These efforts and ideas are intended to improve access to oral health services and promote systems change. CCOHF will continue coordinating activities and working with stakeholders and others to bring the Summit Action Plan to fruition. As we begin work towards meeting the goals and objectives of this Plan, CCOHF welcomes additional thoughts, suggestions, and ideas from Summit attendees and stakeholders who were unable to attend the Summit. CCOHF will periodically share progress updates and reconvene stakeholders to continue to forge a systems-level approach that establishes priorities among multiple, fragmented efforts. Through all of these efforts, the focus of public resources will be on 5 priority areas of need: service delivery, system capacity and public health infrastructure (IOM, 2011).