Open Wide - The Official Blog of The Chicago Dental Society

Permanent link  ISDS Foundation supports dentists in recovery from alcohol and substance abuse


ISDS Foundation offers a dentists support program for those battling alcohol and substance abuse. 

The program is run by volunteers and strictly confidential. Services include education, support and access to professional assistance. 

To find out more, download the ISDS Dentists Support Program brochure or call (800) 475-4737.

The program offers the following self-assessment.

Do You Need Help?

  • Do you experience mood swings, become easily depressed, angry, or abusive?
  • Has anyone become disturbed because of your behavior while you are drinking or using drugs?
  • Have you ever tried to cut down on your drinking or drug use?
  • Has anyone become annoyed about your drinking/drug use? (Prescription or illicit)
  • Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking/drug use or related behaviors?
  • Are you experiencing financial or legal problems, malpractice suit, or divorce, because of your drinking or drug use?
  • Have you been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs?

If you feel that you or a fellow member of the dental profession needs assistance, please call (800) 475-4737 for help. We will carefully and confidentially guide you or your colleague through the steps to wellness.

Does Someone You Love Need Help?

Oftentimes it is the families, colleagues, and friends who first notice something is wrong and are in a position to help. Be aware of the signs of alcohol and substance abuse.
  • Disruption of the appointment schedule.
  • Hostile, withdrawn, or unreasonable behavior toward patients and staff.
  • Excessive ordering of drug supplies by mail or from local pharmacies.
  • Patient complaints regarding dentist’s behavior.
  • Unexplained absence from office or absence due to frequent illness.Inappropriate orders, prescriptions, or treatments.
  • Deterioration in appearance and dress habits.
  • Wearing long sleeves in warm weather.
  • Frequent or unusual accidents.
  • Isolated/withdrawn from community, dental society, and social activities.
  • Embarrasing behaviors at private clubs, parties or other social events.
  • Unpredictable or compulsive behavior.
  • Arrests for driving under the influence, disorderly conduct, etc.


dentist ,

Permanent link  Kids First Health Fair needs volunteers in Lake County


Volunteer dentists, dental assistants and hygienists are needed for Lake County’s 20th annual Kids First Health Fair, scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 1.

This project of the Lake County Health Department Community Health Center, the Rosalind Franklin School of Medicine and Science, and the United Way of Lake County allows Lake County families access to volunteer dentists and physicians who complete the required exams and medical forms that students need to get back to school.

Families that come to the fair in search of medical services that day also receive backpacks filled with school supplies – another key to their successful school year.

Debbie Warner, vision and hearing coordinator for Lake County and one of three chairs for the 20th Kids First Health Fair, expects about 1,000 families at the Health Fair. Eligible families must be Lake County residents and meet certain financial guidelines. They’ll come largely from working class neighborhoods in Waukegan, North Chicago and Gurnee for this free service that will get their children into their classrooms on the first day of school.

“The law is in place because the dental exam is an important part of being ready for school,” Ms. Warner said. Students whose exams return troubling results will be referred to the county’s clinic for follow-up care.

Many schools extend to families a grace period for completing the required medical forms. Forms due for the 2012-2013 academic year can be turned in as late as Oct. 15 in some areas. But the Waukegan schools require completed forms on the very first day of school; for these students especially, the Kids First Health Fair fulfills a tremendous need.

Ms. Warner said 600 volunteers are needed to staff the Kids First Health Fair, split into three shifts Aug. 1. The third shift – that in the late afternoon and early evening – will be the hardest to fill.

To learn more about the Kids First Health Fair and to volunteer, contact Debbie Warner at (preferred) or 847.377.8870.



access to care , children , pediatric dentistry , volunteer opportunity ,

Permanent link  CDS and its foundation provide testimony to Illinois Division of Oral Health


In March, Chicago Dental Society provided testimony to the Illinois Division of Oral Health, which was conducting a statewide listening tour of oral health advocates. The information provided during the listening tour will become part of the state's oral health plan.

Chicago Dental Society and its foundation have three chief concerns regarding access to dental care in Illinois.

The first is the state of the government-funded clinics. Statistics CDS has available for the metro Chicago area include these facts: 

  • The dental safety net in Chicago includes 66 dental clinics that provide care for 753,281 Medicaid enrollees. That is one clinic for every 11,400 patients.
  • The Cook County Department of Public Health served close to 11,900 dental patients in 2000; in 2009, it treated fewer than 5,000.
  • In 2007, Cook County closed half of its county-run dental clinics, which now number four instead of eight. The City of Chicago, meanwhile, has closed all of its city-run dental clinics since 2004 and now has zero dental-clinic capacity.
  • Stroger Hospital has cut its dental operatories by 50 percent and now offers only emergency oral surgery; it fields approximately 400 requests a day for just 35 daily appointments that fill up in approximately 15 minutes every morning.
  • The dental safety net in Chicago and Cook County is equally undersized. And it’s only getting smaller.
  • As a public service, CDS compiled a list of safety-net dental clinics in Chicago and Cook, Lake and DuPage counties in 2006. That list included 44 clinics of various types, 24 of which were located in the city of Chicago. Five years later, in 2011, just 32 of those clinics — 18 of them in Chicago — were still open, and several lacked a dentist.
  • Although longitudinal data are not available, the Chicago Community Oral Health Forum (CCOHF) conducted a more comprehensive analysis of Chicago’s dental clinic supply in 2011. It found 66 safety-net dental clinics in Chicago that provided care for the city’s 753,281 Medicaid enrollees, or one clinic for every 11,400 enrollees.
  • At the county level, the Illinois State Dental Society (ISDS) reports through its Bridge to Healthy Smiles initiative that:
  • More than 1.4 million Cook County residents are registered for government health care (i.e., Medicaid), which is equal to nearly half of the state’s public aid population — making access to care “among the worst in Illinois.”
  • There is just one dental clinic in Cook County for every 15,700 uninsured children.
  • The Cook County Department of Public Health served close to 11,900 dental patients in 2000; in 2009, it treated fewer than 5,000.
  • Local public health agencies: In 2006, just eight of the 24 community health clinics run by the Cook County Department of Public Health offered dental care. In 2007, the county closed half of those clinics — in Markham, Robbins, Skokie and South Holland, Ill. — leaving only four surviving dental clinics — in Ford Heights, Maywood, Bridgeview and Rolling Meadows, Ill.,11 none of which accepts public aid patients — in addition to the county’s main dental office at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital.

Our second concern is Medicaid reimbursement levels for dental care. The state of Illinois made strides in recent years to increase levels for children’s preventative care, and we have seen an attendant increase in the numbers of dentists treating Medicaid-enrolled children.

However, Gov. Pat Quinn has signaled that he plans to cut Medicaid spending, and we are very concerned that we preserve current levels or risk devastating access to dental care for children.

Our third concern is the lack of dental leadership within government agencies. We are heartened to have Dr. David Miller as the state’s dental director, but want to see similar positions filled in metro and county governments with a dentist at the helm. In particular, the Chicago Dental Society’s Government Affairs Committee has been advocating that a dentist be hired as the Cook County Dental Director so that there is an advocate for dentistry within the county health system.

In terms of what the society would like to see Illinois Department of Public Health’s Division of Oral Health take the lead on oral health literacy. Messages such as, “You can’t be healthy without a healthy mouth” need to be reinforced across a variety of media, as dental services are too often considered inessential.

We would also like to see the Division of Oral Health facilitate corporate-not-for-profit partnerships to provide greater access to dental care. As an example, the Chicago Dental Society Foundation is in the planning stages to open a dental clinic DuPage County. Having a forum for pursuing greater financial support for this project would be incredibly helpful.


access to care , medicaid , state of illinois ,

Permanent link  Medicaid crisis in Illinois threatens access to dental care


The news from Springfield about the state of Medicaid in Illinois has been sobering. The system, which supports 2.7 million people and covers half of all births in Illinois, is grappling with $1.9 billion in unpaid Medicaid bills. The Civic Federation projects $21 billion in unpaid Medicaid bills by 2017 if the system is not restructured. (See Gov. Quinn's fact sheet on Medicaid for more information.)

Gov. Quinn's proposal, released this month, reduces Illinois’ Medicaid liability by $2.7 billion, with three-quarters of the plan comprised of cuts, reductions and efficiencies, one-eighth in state revenue, and one-eighth in federal matching funds:

  • Cuts, reductions and efficiencies to 58 separate items totaling $1.35 billion (50 percent)
  • Rate reduction to providers totaling $675 million – (25 percent)
  • Additional revenue through a $1 per pack increase in the cigarette tax totaling $337.5 million (12.5 percent)
  • 100 percent federal match funding from the increased cigarette tax totaling $337.5 million (12.5 percent)

 (See the governor's press release on the proposed Medicaid restructuring.)

The Chicago Tribune has covered how cuts and reductions will affect those who depend on the system for health care. (See "Medicaid spending cuts loom," "Quinn wants deep cuts.")

Chicago Dental Society has expressed its concern about preserving access to dental care among Medicaid patients; yesterday Illinois State Dental Society issued the following press release on the penny-wise, pound foolish proposal to cut adult dental programs from Medicaid:


Cutting Adult Dental Program for Medicaid a Proven Disaster

The Illinois State Dental Society recognizes that Governor Quinn and the Illinois legislature are facing intense budget pressures as they attempt to find $2.7 billion in savings from the Medicaid program.  However, eliminating the adult dental program from the Medicaid budget will not produce any significant savings. Adults that experience pain and infection from dental conditions will be forced to seek treatment in hospital emergency rooms, where staff is unable to provide definitive treatment and costs to the Medicaid program skyrocket.  In a dental office, an emergency exam and surgical extraction of a tooth would cost the dental Medicaid program $73.60, and could address the condition before it escalates into multiple emergency room visits and possible hospitalization.   Dental problems will not resolve themselves, and in some cases, patients will develop severe systemic infections that require hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospitalizations. Retaining the adult program is the only cost effective and efficient option for treating dental problems.

Gov. Quinn has also proposed a reduction in Medicaid reimbursement rates for healthcare providers in an attempt to achieve even more savings. Additional rate cuts to the dentists who provide care to children covered by the Medicaid program would be devastating.  For decades, Illinois has reimbursed dentists for restorative services, like fillings and crowns, at levels drastically below the costs of providing care.  Illinois ranks 48th in the country for its Medicaid funding rates.  Further cuts will drive even more dentists away from treating the children's Medicaid population.

The State of Illinois learned an expensive lesson about cutting adult Medicaid dental services when former Gov. Edgar took that action in FY 1996.  By the next fiscal year, the adult program was restored.    Let’s not repeat a past history of failure.  The Illinois State Dental Society encourages a thorough review of those currently eligible to obtain services under the Medicaid program to ensure that scarce state funds are truly being used for the most vulnerable populations. The dentists of the Illinois State Dental Society will continue to work with Governor Quinn and the Illinois legislature to develop an appropriate solution that will not harm patients or falsely claim short-term savings.


Permanent link  Grant requests to CDS Foundation due June 1


CDS Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Chicago Dental Society, is accepting grant applications for 2012. Eligible nonprofits may request up to $10,000 and applications are due June 1. Funds will be awarded by December 31.

Find out more about how to apply for a grant.

The CDS Foundation was founded in 2007 and began making grants in 2009. Together with CDS, the foundation has donated more than $5 million to clinics, dental schools, and nonprofits that provide dental care to the underserved, including children, the disabled, homeless and working poor. 

Find out more about the society and foundation's history of charitable giving.


access to care , cds foundation ,

Permanent link  Support the Mission of Mercy April 19


Getting excited for this year’s Illinois Mission of Mercy?

You can share your enthusiasm and support for the event by attending a fundraiser Thursday, April 19. Cocktails and appetizers will be served beginning at 6 p.m.; a brief program will be presented at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets and more information are available online at Tickets are $40 per person, and all funds support the 2012 Illinois Mission of Mercy, hosted by the Illinois State Dental Society Foundation and the CURE Network.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Mission of Mercy, take note: the two-day program, scheduled for June 8-9 at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake, will offer free dental, vision and medical services to an estimated 2,000 children and adults with limited access to these services.  More than 1,000 licensed dental, vision and medical professionals and general volunteers will donate their time and talents; more than $1 million in free services will be donated.

For more information, contact the CURE Network at 877.278.7631 or


access to care , dental care , Illinois , volunteer opportunity ,

Permanent link  Register for the Sept. 19 Virtual Reality Meeting


The Chicago Dental Society is proud to once again offer the latest in interactive online continuing education presenting the Virtual Reality Meeting Wednesday, Sept. 19. This event is open to all.

Sit in the comfort of your own home or office while earning CE credits and meeting with exhibitors. Our CE program will feature a lineup of outstanding speakers presenting one hour programs, 1 CE hour per program. You must view each program in its entirety to earn CE credit for that portion of the Virtual Reality Meeting. 

In addition, you will be able to visit with several exhibitors in our virtual Exhibit Hall, and meet and chat with other attendees in our Networking Lounge. Look for a complete list of speakers and sponsors in the coming weeks online and in the CDS Review. 

Registration is required

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