Health Literacy in Dentistry
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.
Health Literacy Resources
ADA's Health Literacy Essay Contest
The ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention (CAAP) sponsored its first pilot health writing contest for dental students in 2015 per the suggestion of Dr. Sorin Teich, Associate Professor, Department of Comprehensive Care and Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine. The Ohio Dental Association also collaborated on the initiative. The objectives of the contest are to increase students' knowledge about health literacy principles and build their skills in writing plain language. For more information please click on the box above to visit the Health Literacy Essay Contest page.
What is Health Literacy in Dentistry?
Increasing the Dental Team's Knowledge about Health Literacy
Improving the Health Literacy Environment of the Dental Office
- Health Literacy Environmental Scans of Community-Based Dental Clinics in Maryland Horowitz A, Maybury C, Kleinman D, Radice S, Wang M, Child W, Rudd R, American Journal of Public Health; August 2014.
- The health literacy environment of hospitals and health centers. Partners for action: Making your healthcare facility literacy-friendly. Rudd RE, Andersen J. Boston, MA: Harvard School of Public Health; 2006.
- The Health Literacy Environment Activity Packet: First Impressions and Walking Interview Rudd RE. Boston, MA: Harvard School of Public Health; 2010.
This packet focuses on four activities designed to help staff members consider the health literacy environment of their workplace.
- Agency for Health Research and Quality Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit
The toolkit offers primary care practices a way to assess their services for health literacy considerations, increase patient understanding of health information and raise the awareness of the office about the use of health literacy principles.
- Ten Attributes of Health Literate Health Care Organizations Brach C, Keller D, Hernandez LM, Baur C, Parker R, Dreyer B, Schyve P, Lemerise AJ, Schillinger D, National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine; June 2012.