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Health Literacy in Dentistry

Did you know 19% of U.S. adults struggle with understanding health information? Get tips to improve health literacy in your practice. 

ADA policy defines oral health literacy as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate oral health decisions. It also recognizes that by improving health literacy, patients are better stewards of their own health. You can improve health literacy by using simple communication with the patient and confirming comprehension so that the risk of miscommunication is minimized. You can support patients' efforts to improve their oral health by using strategies that make the dental office environment and health care system easier to navigate.

Find out why health literacy in dentistry is important — and how to help patients be more health literate — with insight from two members of the ADA National Advisory Committee on Health Literacy in Dentistry. View the Health Literacy in Dentistry Video.

Learn more about health literacy:

Health Literacy Essay Contest

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Health Literacy Essay Contest for Third Year Dental Students! Below are the winners for the contest.

The First Place Winner is Ms. Ida Gorshteyn, UCLA, At the Cross Street of Sugar and Smiles: The Truth About Sugary Drinks

The runners-up are: 

Ms. Anna Hawkins, Case Western Reserve University, Sweetened Drinks Damage Teeth
Mr. Andrew Lum, Tufts University, Uncapping the Truth Behind Sweetened Beverages
Ms. Morgan Shivers, Case Western Reserve University, What's all the fizz about? Sweetened beverages and their effect on oral health
Mr. John Tran, University Illinois at Chicago, Thinking about Another Sweet Gulp? Think Again

Other Health Literacy Resources

Increasing the Dental Team's Knowledge about Health Literacy

Improving the Health Literacy Environment of the Dental Office

Consumer Education

For additional information, please contact

Sharee Clough, RDH, MS Ed
Manager, Preventive Health Activities
Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations

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