Skip to main content
Toggle Menu of ADA WebSites
ADA Websites
Toggle Search Area
Toggle Menu
e-mail Print Share

ADA health literacy essay contest open to all dental schools

September 03, 2018 Nine out of 10 adults struggle to understand and use health information that is unfamiliar, complex or jargon-filled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By using health literacy principles, dentists are among the health care providers who can help improve their patients' understanding about oral health and how to achieve it.

The ADA's annual health literacy essay contest for dental students helps future dentists learn to use plain language to explain scientific topics. For the first time, all U.S. dental schools accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation will be invited to participate in the pilot contest this year.

Dental students are asked to research scientific literature on the topic "Cavities: What Are They and How Do We Prevent Them," and then write a 500-700 word essay. The winner's essay will be published on the ADA consumer website,, and its author will receive $500. Four runners-up will receive a $250 award.

Participating schools will be responsible for distributing information about the contest to faculty and students.  They will also select one essay from their students' entries to submit to the ADA for the final round of judging.  Entries to the ADA are due no later than Nov. 30.

This is the fourth year that the ADA has hosted a health literacy contest. The pilot began in 2015 by the suggestion of Dr. Sorin Teich, professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine.

Last year, Case Western Reserve University student Erinn Enany won the contest for her essay on the topic of "important things you should know about baby teeth." Her essay can be read on

For more information about the contest, or about health literacy in dentistry, visit