Open Wide - The Official Blog of The Chicago Dental Society

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  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  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  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 ,

Permanent link  New Illinois laws improve access to dental care


In the last two months, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed three bills into law, two of which will have an impact on access to oral health care in the state, and a third that protects dentists from frivolous lawsuits.

House Bill 3061 allows the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to provide temporary, 10-day permits to out-of-state dentists and dental hygienists who wish to volunteer their services in Illinois. The bill, which was sponsored by Rep. David Miller and Sen. Pamela Althoff and endorsed by Illinois State Dental Society,"will encourage more dentists to treat low-income families at free clinics throughout Illinois," says a press release on the State of Illinois website.

House Bill 5859, which was signed at June's Mission of Mercy event, looks like a boon to clinics and the dentists who volunteer there. Beginning January 1, the state will reimburse clinics for care provided by volunteer dentists. Payments will help clinics cover the cost of equipment and supplies. Under current Illinois law, the state will not reimburse unless the volunteer dentist is enrolled in Medicaid.

Finally, last week Gov. Quinn signed Senate Bill 3025, which will hopefully curtail frivolous lawsuits against dentists. Advanced by ISDS, this law requires that all information gathered by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation during an investigation-including information subpoenaed under the Illinois Dental Practice Act-is kept confidential. Information may still be released to the dental licensing authority of other states or jurisdictions when an official request is made; however, such information may only be used for investigations and disciplinary proceedings related to licensure.

The impetus for this bill was the case of an oral surgeon who was sued, and as a result, multiple subpoenas were made to try and find fault with his practice. By limiting the release of certain information, ISDS hopes this bill will stymy such "fishing" expeditions against dentists in the future. The sponsor of this bill was Rep. John Fritchey.


dental practice act , state of illinois ,