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Resource Highlights

Oral Health Literacy

Photo of Dentist with Mother and Daughter

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.

Key Facts

Did you know? Low health literacy contributes to oral disease, which results in increased health care costs.

OHRC Publications

This section contains OHRC-produced materials.


Barzel R. 2007. A way with words: Guidelines for writing oral health materials for audiences with limited literacy. Washington, DC: National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, 2 pp

National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center
Georgetown University Box 571272
Washington, DC 20057-1272

Telephone: (202) 784-9771
E-mail: OHRCinfo@georgetown.edu
Website: https://www.mchoralhealth.org
Available from the website.

This tip sheet provides ideas to help those who produce educational oral health materials make the materials easy for everyone to understand. It offers suggestions for how to choose words; set an appropriate tone; and craft sentences, paragraphs, lists, and headings that communicate most effectively with people with limited literacy. Suggestions for how to design documents and how to present unfamiliar terminology are also included. [Funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau]


OHRC Library

This section contains recent materials, not including OHRC-produced materials.


Booker WJ, Grant LE. 2014. Improving oral health literacy: Teaching primary school students through the Lessons in a Lunch Box program. Dallas, TX: Procter and Gamble Company, 1 v

Procter and Gamble Company
Cincinnati, OH Telephone: (800) 543-2577
Website: http://www.dentalcare.com
Available from the website.

This course for oral health professionals outlines steps for implementing the Lessons in a Lunch Box program, a strategy to address health literacy with elementary school students and their families. Contents include an overview of health literacy, information on how to present the program and register schools for the program, and resources. Topics include routine oral health maintenance, oral disease prevention, healthy eating, and careers in dentistry. Continuing education credits are available.


GBSM. 2013. Oral health 2014: Delaware–An oral health literacy strategic communications plan. Dover, DE: Delaware Health and Social Services, Bureau of Oral Health and Dental Services, 24 pp

Delaware Health and Social Services, Bureau of Oral Health and Dental Services
Jesse Cooper Building 417 Federal Street
Dover, DE 19901

Telephone: (302) 744-4554
Fax: (302) 661-7229
Website: http://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/hsm/ohphome.html
Available from the website.

This report provides an overview of an oral health literacy campaign in Delaware, describes the campaign's communications approach, and discusses sustainability and next steps. Contents include information about the campaign's mission; successes; challenges; impact; and strategic levers, goals, and objectives. Additional topics include campaign strategies, collaborative structure, critical partners, stakeholders, target audiences, research, message platform, branding and identity, tactics, action steps, written materials, interactive tools, mass media, and grassroots community outreach. Information about funding and costs, measures of success, and a conclusion are also provided.


New York State Oral Health Center of Excellence. 2015. Oral health literacy toolkit. Rochester, NY: New York State Oral Health Center of Excellence, 55 pp

New York State Oral Health Center of Excellence
259 Monroe Avenue, Level B
Rochester, NY 14607

Telephone: (585) 325-2280
E-mail: info@nysoralhealth.org
Website: https://nysoralhealth.squarespace.com
Available from the website.

This toolkit provides information and resources for implementing interventions to promote and improve oral health literacy as part of the New York State Department of Health prevention agenda. Contents include information about the magnitude of the problem, the importance of oral health literacy, the potential reach and relative impact of interventions to improve oral health literacy, and suggested interventions for specific sectors.


Petty D. 2015. Eliminating tooth decay in the Karen refugee population. Plymouth, MN: Minnesota Oral Health Coalition, 1 video (40 min, 27 sec)

Minnesota Oral Health Coalition
4190 Vinewood Lane N, #111-416
Plymouth, MN 55442

Telephone: (763) 381-1701
E-mail: info@minnesotaoralhealthcoalition.org
Website: http://www.minnesotaoralhealthcoalition.org
Available from the website.

This video describes qualitative and quantitative research on oral health knowledge and behavior within the Karen refugee community in Minnesota, and how the results were used to target educational oral health topics to Karen leaders, parents, adolescents, and children. The video covers evidence-based oral health topics for the Karen refugee community and strategies for collaboration among oral health professionals, educators, and refugee community leaders.


Yarbrough C, Nasseh K, Vujicic M. 2014. Key differences in dental care seeking behavior between Medicaid and non-Medicaid adults and children. Chicago, IL: American Dental Association, Health Policy Institute, 21 pp

American Dental Association, Health Policy Institute
211 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611-2678

Telephone: (312) 440-2500
Website: http://www.ada.org/en/science-research/health-policy-institute
Available from the website.

This brief describes adult Medicaid beneficiaries' understanding of the dental benefits available to them and, where applicable, to their children. The brief also describes oral health knowledge and oral-health-care-seeking behavior, comparing outcomes among adult Medicaid beneficiaries with outcomes among those enrolled in other health insurance plans.


More library materials

Selected Websites

American Association of Public Health Dentistry

Health Literacy Consulting

National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness

U.S. Office of Minority Health, Center for Linguistic and Cultural Competence in Health Care

Find more organizations in OHRC's Organizations Database.

Assistance from an Information Specialist