Oral Health Literacy
This collection of selected resources offers high-quality information about oral health literacy. Use the tools below for further searching, or contact us for personalized assistance.
- Low health literacy contributes to oral disease, which results in increased health care costs. 1
- Oral health literacy is defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic oral health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions and act on them. 2
- Dental anxiety and oral health literacy levels are related. To reduce oral health disparities, public health stakeholders need to find ways to overcome barriers resulting from high dental anxiety levels and low oral health literacy levels. 3
- Low oral health literacy is associated with missing dental appointments. 4
- Caregivers with low oral health knowledge are more likely to engage in behaviors (pre-chewing food for children, sharing utensils or toothbrush, delaying initiation of toothbrushing) that increase a child’s risk for developing dental caries. 5
- Dental school clinics and other settings that provide oral health care should ensure that their materials are written at a level that is suitable for their target audience to enhance patients’ ability to make appropriate health-related decisions. 6
- Oral health professionals should use simple language and seek to improve parents’ comprehension by using visual aids and verbal communication and techniques, such as questioning parents to confirm understanding of instructions and encouraging parents to ask questions. 7
- Non-oral-health professionals such as nurse practitioners are uniquely positioned to contribute to preventing early childhood caries through health-literate and patient-centered communication. 8
- In a study of pregnant and postpartum women who participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), higher oral health literacy was associated with better oral health status. 9
- A home visiting program model can introduce children and their families to oral-disease-prevention methods, improve oral health literacy, and establish a dental home, leading to increased use of oral health services among families with low incomes enrolled in or eligible for Medicaid. 10
- Horowitz AM, Kleinman DV. 2012. Oral health literacy: A pathway to reducing oral health disparities in Maryland. Journal of Public Health Dentistry 72(Suppl 1):S26–30.
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services. 2005. The invisible barrier: Literacy and its relationship with oral health. A report of a workgroup sponsored by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services. Journal of Public Health Dentistry 65(3):174–182.
- Shin WK, Braun TM, Inglehart MR. 2014. Parents’ dental anxiety and oral health literacy: Effects on parents’ and children’s oral health-related experiences. Journal of Public Health Dentistry 74(3):195–201.
- Baskaradoss JK. 2016. The association between oral health literacy and missed dental appointments. Journal of the American Dental Association 147(11):867-874.
- Finnegan DA, Rainchuso L, Jenkins S, Kierce E, Rothman A. 2016. Immigrant caregivers of young children: Oral health beliefs, attitudes, and early childhood caries knowledge. Journal of Community Health 41(2):250–257.
- Tam A, Yue O, Atchinson KA, Richards JK, Holtzman JS. 2015. The association of patients’ oral health literacy and dental school communication tools: A pilot study. Journal of Dental Education 79(5):530–538.
- Richman JA, Huebner CE, Leggott PJ, Mouradian WE, Mancl LA. 2011. Beyond word recognition: Understanding pediatric oral health literacy. Pediatric Dentistry 33(5):420–435.
- Koo LW, Horowitz AM, Radice SD, Wang MQ, Kleinman DV. 2016. Nurse practitioners’ use of communication techniques: Results of a Maryland oral health literacy survey. PLoS One 11(1):e0146545.
- Brickhouse TH, Haldiman RR, Evani B. 2013. The impact of a home visiting program on children’s utilization of dental services. Pediatrics 132(Suppl 2):S147–152.
- Meija GC, Weintraub JA, Cheng NF, Grossman W, Han PZ, Phipps KR, Gansky SA. 2011. Language and literacy relate to lack of children’s dental sealant use. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 39(4):318–324.
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