The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has previously addressed issues related to oral health. Most notably, a 1995 study, Dental Education at the Crossroads: Challenges and Change (IOM, 1995), provided recommendations to improve the availability of dental care to underserved populations, integrate dental school education with medical school education, increase student exposure to alternative sites of care, increase diversity of the dental workforce, and eliminate barriers to improving working relationships among all oral health professionals.

In July 2007 the IOM convened a 1-day planning meeting to consider challenges in access to oral health services. As a result, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the California HealthCare Foundation cosponsored a project on the sufficiency of the U.S. oral health workforce to consider three key questions:

  • What is the current status of access to oral health services for the U.S. population?

  • What workforce strategies hold promise to improve access to oral health services?

  • How can policy makers, state and federal governments, and oral health care providers and practitioners improve the regulations and structure of the oral health care system to improve access to oral health services?

A planning committee1 organized the 3-day workshop, the U.S. Oral Health Workforce in the Coming Decade, which was held February 9–11, 2009.


David N. Sundwall, M.D.

Chair, IOM Planning Committee

Utah Department of Health

At the end of the day, a high-quality oral health system includes access to adequate, affordable, and appropriate oral health services for all. However, defining that is quite challenging. Discussions in the first day of the workshop focused on the current status of oral health care and the delivery of oral health services. For many people, oral health services are unavailable


The planning committee’s role was limited to planning the workshop, and the workshop summary has been prepared by the workshop rapporteur as a factual summary of what occurred at the workshop.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement