Open Wide - The Official Blog of The Chicago Dental Society

Permanent link  Amalgam is back in the news today; find answers here


If your patients are fans of Dr. Oz, be prepared for their questions about the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings. The Dr. Oz Show will focus today on the question, “Are your silver fillings making you sick?”

The American Dental Association has long argued that dental amalgam is a safe, affordable and durable material that has been used to restore the teeth of more than 100 million Americans. The Chicago Dental Society supports that position, as it is based on scientific reviews by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Life Sciences Research Office, the American Medical Association and other respected organizations. 

Read more about the ADA’s position online.

As in all cases, patients are encouraged to talk to their dentists about their oral health concerns – including those regarding the use of amalgam fillings. 

Here are a few more resources to consider when patients come to you with questions about amalgam:






consumer products , dental news , dental products , news coverage , oral health ,

Permanent link  Help keep adult dental services in the Medicaid program


Did you receive an email from the Bridge to Healthy Smiles campaign today?  It reminded local voters that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and the State Legislature are conducting a review of all Medicaid services to find $2.7 billion in budget cuts. Adult dental services are on the chopping block for possible elimination due to their classification as “optional services” under federal reimbursement guidelines.

The Bridge to Healthy Smiles campaign urged voters to help the governor and their elected officials understand that elimination of the adult services is not the answer; it will instead shift the burden to emergency rooms that can not treat the underlying dental condition.

You can read the full message from the Bridge to Health Smiles campaign here.

If you agree and want to help, the Bridge to Healthy Smiles campaign encourages you to call Gov. Quinn and your legislators and explain why they must not cut the adult dental funding and what the impact will be on the underserved population. 

Governor Quinn’s office can be reached at 217.782.0244 during business hours.

The Illinois State Dental Society has provided on its website links to help you identify your elected representative, and an outline of talking points for when you call that person’s legislative office:

  • The adult dental program is a state-optional program and only accounts for about 20 percent ($51 million) of the entire dental appropriation in the FY-12 budget, which is projected to be $300 million. Since the federal government pays half of the Medicaid costs, the State of Illinois’ savings would only be $25.5 million.
  • If the adult dental program is eliminated, much or all of the savings in the dental appropriation would be offset due to increased State spending for those patients who present to hospital emergency rooms seeking pain relief.
  • In most cases, emergency rooms are only able to provide pain medication and antibiotics, which temporarily address the clinical concerns.
  • The Pew Center issued a report on February 28, 2012, that documented a 15.8 percent increase in emergency room visits from 2006-2009 in states that reduced or eliminated adult dental care programs.





access to care , dental benefits , dental news , legislation , medicaid , public health , state of illinois ,

Permanent link  Make sure your licenses to prescribe controlled substances are up-to-date or risk thousands in fines


CDS has learned that the Drug Enforcement Administration is auditing dentists to make sure their licenses to prescribe controlled substances are current. Without the proper licenses--or with an expired one--a dentist could be on the hook for thousands of dollars in fines.

Illinois dentists who prescribe controlled substances are required to register for a license through the state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Dentists must also have a license from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In order to apply for the DEA license, you must have an Illinois license to prescribe controlled substances first.

To find out more about prescribing controlled substances in Illinois, see the ISDS web page, "Prescription Writing Authority." 

To make sure you are compliant, follow these steps:

IDFPR License

First, make sure that you are in good standing with IDFPR by keeping your Illinois license to prescribe controlled substances current. You can check your license status online.

If your license is expired, IDFPR advises that you come to their office in Springfield in person so you can get a "letter in good standing" that day. Otherwise, processing time is 4-6 weeks. 

If you have never had a license to prescribe controlled substances in Illinois before, you should fill out the application and mail it in. Coming in person to Springfield does nothing except save mailing time. IDFPR will not process a first-time application in person. Processing time is currently 4-6 weeks.

If your license is current, be advised that the renewal period for dentists in not yet open. The license to prescribe controlled substances will expire on September 30 for dentists.

DEA License

Next, make sure that your license with the DEA is current. You have to get your license to prescribe controlled substance from IDFPR before you can apply for the DEA license. 

If you've applied before, you can renew online.

If you've never obtained a license from the DEA before, you can apply online.

For more information

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation  

Springfield Office 

320 West Washington Street

Springfield, Illinois 62786

Phone: (217) 785-0820


Drug Enforcement Administration  

Diversion Control Program

230 S. Dearborn St.

Chicago, IL 60604

Phone: (312) 353-7875



dental news , state of illinois ,

Permanent link  Cook County Board allocates $1 million for dental care


CDS member Cheryl Watson-Lowry joined Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today to announce a $1 million earmark in the 2012 Cook County Health and Hospital System budget for outpatient dental care.

“These public health initiatives will be critical to treating our underserved residents at a time when families throughout Cook County are facing difficult economic circumstances,” President Preckwinkle said. “Because we made tough choices in our budget, we can invest in public health to ensure … our children can have access to the dental services they need and deserve.”

Cook County press conference on accessPresident Preckwinkle also announced today an additional $1 million allocation for the Access to Care organization, which facilitates primary care for residents of suburban Cook Country at reduced rates. Private physicians care for qualified patients in their private offices. This brings the County’s total funding for the Access to Care organization to $3 million this year.

Ramanathan Raju, MD, CEO of the Cook Country Hospital System, called it “a great day for the health of Cook County residents.”

“In times of financial crisis, it takes courageous leadership and farsighted thinking to protect the health of our residents. As more people enroll (in public health systems), we need to think of innovative ways of partnering with the community and organizations to provide care,” Dr. Raju said.

Funding to restore dental care to the Cook County healthcare system has been a year-long battle for the Chicago Dental Society’s Government Affairs Committee. Members have met repeatedly with President Preckwinkle and various commissioners to explain that the federal government has designated large areas of Cook County as dental health professional shortage areas, and to educate commissioners about the importance of oral healthcare as part of whole body wellness.

Dr. Watson-Lowry, who chairs the Government Affairs Committee, was reinvigorated by today’s announcement.

“I am so excited that we are making progress, and that the underserved residents of Chicago and Cook County will receive the dental care that they deserve,” she said. “This will change lives. People who have not been able to find jobs because they are afraid to smile or to talk in public will be able to have their mouths restored so that they can eat and speak properly and seek employment.”

Also on hand for the announcement were commissioners John Daley (D-11th), also the Finance Committee chairman; Tim Schneider (R-15th); Peter Silvestri (R-9th); and Jeffrey Tobolski (D-16th).

“The world would be a better place if we smile at each other a little more. You can thank a dentist for that,” Mr. Silvestri said. 

“Sure enough,” President Preckwinkle replied. “I’m grateful for the bipartisan support for these additional funds for both Access to Care and the dental program.”

Pictured above (L-R): CDS executive director Randy Grove, Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski (D-16th), CDS Government Affairs Committee chair Cheryl Watson-Lowry and Commissioner John Daley (D-11th).


access to care , dental care , dental news , legislation ,

Permanent link  New law promotes dental homes for kids


Under a new law passed Aug. 9, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the dental community will develop and promote dental homes for children covered under CHIP, All Kids and Medicaid programs. This law is a key initiative of the Bridge to Healthy Smiles Coalition


Dental home initiative. The Department, in cooperation with the dental community and other affected organizations such as Head Start, shall work to develop and promote the concept of a dental home for children covered under this Act. Included in this dental home outreach should be an effort to ensure an ongoing relationship between the patient and the dentist with an effort to provide comprehensive, coordinated, oral health care so that all children covered under this Act have access to preventative and restorative oral health care.


The law builds on a national campaign by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry to address the dental needs of children by creating partnerships with dentists and related organizations. Dentists will collaborate to deliver comprehensive, coordinated and family-centered preventive and restorative oral health care services.

The Bridge to Healthy Smiles coalition has been successful in gaining the attention of state legislators and spearheaded the passage of legislation that will improve access to oral health throughout Illinois.  BTHS established a process to award grants for dental clinic development and secured $2 million in state funds and $1 million in Cook County funds to open dental clinics in underserved areas. 

Other legislation offers oral healthcare providers incentives to treat the underserved.  These include a student loan compensation program and deferred compensation program, and a policy change that allows dentists to volunteer at clinics without being registered with Medicaid. BTHS has had much success with coalition members and continues to work in Cook County.


access to care , children , dental care , dental news , Illinois , pediatric dentistry , state of illinois ,