The mouth is our primary connection to the world: it is how we take in water and nutrients to sustain life, our primary means of communication, the most visible sign of our mood, and a major part of how we appear to others. Oral health is an essential and integral component of people’s overall health throughout life, and is much more than just healthy teeth. Oral refers to the whole mouth: the teeth, gums, hard and soft palate, linings of the mouth and throat, tongue, lips, salivary glands, chewing muscles, and upper and lower jaws. Not only does good oral health mean being free of tooth decay and gum disease, but it also means being free of chronic oral pain conditions; oral cancer; birth defects, such as cleft lip and palate; and other conditions that affect the mouth and throat. Good oral health also includes the ability to carry on the most basic human functions, such as chewing, swallowing, speaking, smiling, kissing, and singing.
Because the mouth is an integral part of the human anatomy, oral health is intimately related to the health of the rest of the body. For example, mounting evidence suggests that infections in the mouth, such as periodontal (gum) diseases, can increase the risk for heart disease, can put pregnant women at greater risk for premature delivery, and can complicate control of blood sugar for people living with diabetes. Conversely, changes in the mouth often are the first signs of problems elsewhere in the body, such as infectious diseases, immune disorders, nutritional deficiencies, and cancer.
Division of Oral Health
Educate, Empower, Monitor, Analyze and Investigate
- Assess oral health status and implement an oral health surveillance system
- Analyze and overcome oral health hazards
- Understand public perceptions and respond with education/empowerment
Inform, Mobilize Community, Partnership & Develop Policies
- Collaborate, develop partnerships for best use of resources and advocacy
- Develop systemic plans and policies that improve oral health issues
- Mobilize collaborations for integrated health outcomes
Enforce Laws, Link To/Provide Care, Workforce, Evaluate & Research
- Support and develop laws, guidelines, and education systems for optimal workforce
- Evaluate programs for quality, appropriateness and accessibility for personal and population-based impact
- Evaluate innovations and implement for best community oral health outcomes
The Division of Oral Health (DOH) supports IDPH’s mission by assuring that the people of Illinois have access to population-based interventions that prevent and reduce oral disease and promote oral health as integral to health and as part of organized community health efforts.
It is the vision of the DOH to create a responsive, sustainable oral health system to promote improvements in oral health for Illinois residents of all ages.
DOH’s oral health programs focus on community water fluoridation, dental sealants, early childhood oral health, oral cancer, tobacco, craniofacial anomalies, orofacial injuries, school-based oral health programs, and a variety of educational programs designed to meet the oral health needs of disparate population groups in Illinois. Surveillance, policy development, coalition building, oral health infrastructure, technical assistance, education/awareness and access to oral health care are strong components of the division’s programs.
Division of Oral Health Programs
Illinois Department of Public Health-Division of Oral Health
535 W. Jefferson
Springfield, IL 62761
800.547.4899 TTY (hearing impaired)