State Update

State Spotlight: Illinois

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Illinois Statistics:

  •  Population in 2012: 12.8 million.
  • The state is naturally divided into three regions: the north (which includes the state’s largest city, Chicago), the central (flat prairie or steep hills), and the south (bordered by the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers). The largest county is Cook County, which includes the city of Chicago. In 2012, Cook County had an estimated population of 5.2 million.
  • Median household income: $56,576 (U.S. median household income is $52,762).
  • Approximately 8,600 practicing dentists are located in Illinois, and the state has three dental schools.
  • Approximately 18.7% of Illinois residents have no teeth by age 65 (U.S. average is 25%). 
  • In 2011, Illinois received a B grade on the Pew Center’s National Oral Health Report Card for the second year in a row, in part due to the share of dentists’ median retail fees reimbursed by Medicaid falling below the national average.


Program Highlight: The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) began the Oral Health Program in 2000. The program allows low-income students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade to receive a dental exam and certain preventative services from a licensed dentist during the school day while on their school campus. During FY 2012–13, there were 404,155 students enrolled in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and according to CPS staff, 84% of CPS students are currently on Medicaid.

Services Offered: Qualified students who return a CDPH positive consent and authorization form signed by their parent/guardian will receive the following services at school: dental exam, dental cleaning, fluoride treatment, and dental sealants (as needed). Every student will receive a walk-out letter from the dentist detailing the student’s oral health status. In addition, all students requiring additional treatment will be referred to a dentist located within their home/school zip code.

Students Served:
During the 2012–13 school year, 17 dentists contracted with CDPH to provide dental services to CPS students. Dentists bring their own staff and equipment to the schools to provide services. According to CPS, during the 2012–13 school year, the Oral Health Program served 567 schools*, treated 116,216 students*, and placed 339,717 sealants*.  

CPS students participating in the program receive an oral health status classification of 1 to 3. A level 1 status generally indicates that the student has no cavities and has good oral health overall and should see a dentist every six months. A level 2 status indicates that the student has some cavities and requires additional treatment. A level 3 status indicates that the student has more than five cavities, possible abscesses, pain, and requires immediate treatment. During the 2012–13 school year approximately 36,000* students received a level 2 status and 7,000* students received a level 3 status. As a result, CPS is piloting a case management program which connects the student’s parent/guardian with a dentist that accepts Medicaid patients. In addition, under the case management pilot program, CDPH staff and dental providers will check-in with the parent/guardian to ensure that an appointment was made for a follow-up dental visit.

*Please be aware that school data is not complete for the 2012–13 school year.