In 2001, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Division of Oral Health developed the Illinois Oral Health Plan. Through a series of community meetings and wide-ranging input, the plan outlined recommendations/strategies to be used by communities to improve the oral health status of residents of Illinois. One of the major goals of this plan was to understand dental workforce issues operating in Illinois and monitor and effect changes to the oral health workforce over time. As an outcome of the Illinois Oral Health Plan, the first Illinois Dental Workforce Census Report was made available in the year 2004 and it was followed by another report in 2006.
It is important for policy makers, communities, education institutions and the health care systems to have current data and periodic updates on the oral health professional workforce. These reports provide important snapshots of the dental workforce capacity in Illinois. Changes in population size, age distribution shifting increasing proportion of older adults, longer lifespans and increased population’s understanding of the importance of oral health have increase the demand and need for oral health services. Additional Demographic changes include the aging of dental workforce, the increase number of people with limited abilities, and the increase of diversity in the population. All of these population level changes will require a clinically competent, culturally diverse and sufficient numbers of dental professionals who can address the health care needs of Illinoisans.