IOM Workshop Summary Highlights Inadequate Access

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A summary of an Institute of Medicine (IOM) workshop, called The U.S. Oral Health Workforce in the Coming Decade, now available online, says “the current oral health workforce fails to meet the needs of many segments of the U.S. population.”

Oral health experts and researchers, by way of presentations on oral health needs and workforce trends, focused on three main areas during the workshop:

  • the current status of access to oral health services;
  • which workforce strategies hold promise to improve access; and
  • how stakeholders can improve the regulations and structure of oral health care delivery to improve access.

Their conclusions led the IOM to state that a “variability in access to oral health services … often related to geography, insurance status, sociodemographic characteristics, and income levels…” creates many challenges.

Those challenges include:

  • a lack of coordination and integration among the oral health, public health, and medical health care systems;
  • misaligned payment and education systems that focus on the treatment of disease rather than prevention;
  • the lack of a robust evidence base for many dental procedures and workforce models; and
  • regulatory barriers that prevent the exploration of alternative models of care.

The February 2009 IOM workshop, The Sufficiency of the U.S. Oral Health Workforce in the Coming Decade, was jointly sponsored by HRSA and the California HealthCare Foundation.


The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. For more information about HRSA and its programs, visit

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at

Date Last Reviewed:  March 2017