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Oral Health Literacy

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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.

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
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]


Hilfiker S, Robison S, Petti MA, Miller B, eds. 2015. Health literacy online (2nd ed.). Rockville, MD: U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1 v

U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
1101 Wootton Parkway, Suite LL100
Rockville, MD 20852

Fax: (240) 453-8282
E-mail: odphpinfo@hhs.gov
Website: https://health.gov
Available from the website.

This resource provides guidance on why and how to design health websites and other digital health-information tools for all users. Topics include what we know about users with limited literacy skills, writing actionable content, displaying content clearly on the page, organizing content and simplifying navigation, engaging users, and testing your site with users with limited literacy skills. A printable checklist of strategies, an overview of user research, and an annotated bibliography are included.


National Center on Health, Behaviorial Health, and Safety. 2012–. Brush up on oral health. Waltam,MA: National Center on Health, Behaviorial Health, and Safety, monthly

Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center
Telephone: (866) 763-6481
E-mail: health@ecetta.info
Website: https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov
Available from the website.

This series of tip sheets provides Head Start staff with information on current practice and practical tips to promote good oral health. Topics include teething, fluoridated community water, healthy drink choices, healthy bedtime habits, oral health during pregnancy, and preventing oral disease.


OHRC Library

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


American Academy of Pediatrics, Children's Oral Health Initiative. 2015. Brush, Book, Bed: A program of the American Academy of Pediatrics—Implementation guide. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, 23 pp

American Academy of Pediatrics, Children's Oral Health Initiative
345 Park Boulevard
Itasca, IL 60143

Telephone: (866) 843-2271
Secondary Telephone: (847) 434-4779
E-mail: oralhealth@aap.org
Website: https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Oral-Health/Pages/Oral-Health.aspx
Available from the website.

This guide is designed to help pediatricians and other health professionals improve the implementation of oral health services in the medical home through the Brush, Book, Bed program by linking oral health information to messages about reading to children and setting a regular bedtime. The program is aimed at parents of infants and children ages 6 months to 6 years. Topics include workflow, training and resources, talking points, supplies and tips, dental referral, and coding for oral health services.


Atchison KA, Rozier RG, Weintraub JA. 2018. Integration of oral health and primary care: Communication, coordination, and referral. Washington, DC: National Academy of Medicine, 12 pp

National Academy of Medicine
500 5th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001

E-mail: NAMedicine@nas.edu
Website: http://nam.edu
Available from the website.

This paper discusses challenges in integrating oral health care and primary care for populations with low health literacy. The paper provides background on the issues and focuses on weaknesses in the areas of communication, coordination, and referral. Topics include referral networks, risk management, clinical referral guidelines, performance measures, electronic tools and integrated health records, interprofessional education and collaborative practice, research, and demonstration programs.


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.


Olson S, Wojtowicz A, Rapporteurs; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice, Roundtabl on Health Literacy. 2019. Integrating oral and general health through health literacy practices: Proceedings of a workshop. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 102 pp

National Academies Press
500 Fifth Street, N.W., Keck 360
Washington, DC 20001

Telephone: (202) 334-3313
Secondary Telephone: (888) 624-8373
Fax: (202) 334-2451
E-mail: customer_service@nap.edu
Website: http://www.nap.edu
Available from the website.

These proceedings summarize presentations and discussions from a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine workshop held on December 6, 2018. Topics include integration of oral health care, primary care, and health literacy; systems thinking, integration, and health literacy as a catalyst; health literacy and care integration; exploring pathways to integration; developing a research agenda for integration; and reflections on the workshop.


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