The objective of this paper is to describe the purpose, rationale and key elements of the special issue, Improving Oral Healthcare Delivery Systems through Workforce Innovations. The purpose of the special issue is to further develop ideas presented at the 2009 Institute of Medicine (IOM) workshop, Sufficiency of the U.S. Oral Health Workforce in the Coming Decade. Using the IOM discussions as their starting point, the authors evaluate oral health care delivery system performance for specific populations’ needs and explore the roles that the workforce can play in improving the care delivery model. The contributing articles provide a broad framework for stimulating and evaluating innovation and change in the oral health care delivery system. The articles in this special issue point to many deficits in the current oral health care delivery system and provide compelling arguments and proposals for improvements. The issues presented and solutions recommended are not entirely new, but add to a growing body of work that is of critical importance given the context of wider health care reform.