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 in Dentistry
Health Literacy 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 visit the Health Literacy Essay Contest page.
Health Literacy Resources
Become a better communicator with your patients and staff so that the information you share with them is easily understood and can be acted upon. Read the action guide.
- CDC Health Literacy for Public Health Professionals
A web-based course to educate public health professionals on the importance of health literacy and their role in providing health information and services and promoting public health literacy.
- Federal Plain Language Guidelines
The website contains training and resources for writing plain language.
- Center for Plain Language
The website contains best practices for using, learning, and teaching plain language.
- Smiles for life - A National Oral Health Curriculum
Smiles for Life produces educational resources to ensure the integration of oral health and primary care