As we debate shaping the future oral health workforce within the UK, to meet the needs of current and future populations, it is helpful to take an international perspective on this very important issue. Globally, there is a strong recognition that human resources for health (HRH) are fundamentally important to deliver effective care, accessible to all people. This paper reviews the outcome of the fourth global forum held by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Dublin which highlighted the urgency for action. The main objectives of the forum were to advance the implementation of (i) the WHO Global Strategy on HRH 2030 and (ii) the United Nations High-Level Commission's Health Employment and Economic Growth recommendations. From an oral health perspective, the global burden of oral disease remains huge with untreated dental caries, periodontal disease and tooth loss ranking among the most prevalent conditions worldwide. Major considerations are how dental education, practice delivery and/or oral health systems as a whole could and should innovate to accommodate the growing needs of the population. As dental professionals, it also becomes necessary for us to engage and play a proactive role in this change process. Due to growing differences between population needs and available services, it is necessary for oral health personnel to work more closely with the broader health workforce so as to identify solutions that are in the best interests of the patients and populations at large.