The elimination of oral health disparities in the US will require enhancing access to oral health care services. The workshop convened in 2009 by the Institute of Medicine on the "US Oral Health Workforce in the Coming Decade" highlighted both the current workforce's failure to meet the nation's needs as well as the promising opportunities presented by various workforce strategies to significantly enhance access and improve oral health outcomes. In this article, we have briefly reviewed and expanded on the contributions in this special issue of the Journal of Public Health Dentistry, with the goal of identifying common themes and providing a framework for evaluation. There are several key areas where change is critically needed in order to ensure successful implementation of any new workforce models. These areas include a) the public and private financing of dental care, b) the dental educational system, and c) state and federal policies.