“All children have access to quality oral health services in their communities and a new culture of awareness exists throughout the state about the interconnection of oral health and overall health.”
The prevalence of untreated tooth decay declined to 22% (2013-2014), down from 30% in the previous decade (2003-2004), and the number of children with sealants has almost doubled. However, one in five children has untreated tooth decay and access to pediatric oral health care is inadequate in Illinois. Only two-thirds of privately insured children and just over half (55%) of Medicaid covered children reported having seen a dentist in 2013. Visit the interactive website to learn more about the status of Children’s Oral Health in Illinois.
Since Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation (ILCHF) began funding in 2004, it has supported children’s oral health programs as part of a larger funding strategy to make comprehensive health services available to all children in Illinois. In response to the Foundation’s early findings that children’s oral health was one of the most pressing, unmet health care issues facing children of Illinois, ILCHF launched the Children’s Oral Health Initiative in 2007.
Oral health is an indivisible component of health and well-being. Access to quality oral health services is essential to the well-being of children of all ages. Children need quality oral health care, including routine dental care. While tooth decay and oral diseases are among the most prevalent chronic health problems in the United States and in Illinois, the good news is that most oral health disease is preventable or treatable.
The Foundation realizes that its efforts alone are not responsible for improving children’s oral health in Illinois. Through the efforts of so many committed, hardworking and passionate champions, there has been great momentum. We would like to thank our partners for all their work, advice and guidance over the past few years.Working together, we can improve the lives of children in Illinois.
Since 2007, ILCHF released specific Requests for Proposals that were designed to increase access to oral health care by establishing new services or expanding existing services in a clinical setting or implementing a community oral health planning process. In 2016, ILCHF approved 13 Capacity Building Proposals totaling just over $4 million.
In an effort to support and maintain the Foundation’s investments in expanded capacity, two Requests for Proposals (2009, 2010) were designed and released to reduce barriers preventing children from receiving optimal levels of comprehensive oral health care. (This funding was offered to past and current ILCHF oral health recipients.) Two basic categories of barriers were identified: equipment and enhancements/electronic health records and public education/awareness.
The Foundation conducted extensive research and developed the ILCHF Pipeline Project. Multi-year commitments were made to Southern Illinois University of Dental Medicine and University of Illinois, College of Dentistry to better prepare dentists to provide care to underserved populations of children throughout the state. In an effort to evaluate and document the Pipeline Project activities over multiple years, the Foundation contracted with the Center for Urban Research & Learning at Loyola University.
To broaden the scope of oral health services provided to children and engage non-traditional health care providers, the Foundation has funded a multi-year public/private partnership commitment to the “Bright Smiles from Birth” project spearheaded by the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ILCAAP). The goal of the project is to reduce the incidence of early childhood caries and secure dental homes for Illinois children by helping primary care practice systems better address oral health through service delivery, patient education and referral. As a result the application of fluoride varnish is a reimbursable service through IDHFS.
The focus of creating awareness has been centered around activities undertaken by community-based organizations within their respective communities (i.e. the Foundation did not provide funding for a statewide media campaign). The Foundation has provided funding for outreach, awareness and direct education. Additionally, the Foundation implemented training and networking opportunities for oral health stakeholders throughout the state of Illinois.
Understanding the importance of quality oral health care for all Illinoisans and data driven decision making, ILCHF in partnership with Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation and the Michael Reese Health Trust, published Oral Health in Illinois. The report is a comprehensive assessment of the oral health system in Illinois. The report was paired with a website funded by Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation which is a repository for all of the data from the study and will be continually updated.
Visit the interactive website to learn more about the status of Children’s Oral Health in Illinois.