What You Should Know About Oral Health Literacy

Three resolutions were adopted by the ADA house of delegates at the annual meeting in October.  These resolutions recognize the importance of Oral Health Literacy and support the goal of ensuring that dental patients receive  “clear, accurate and effective communication”.

Health Literacy is defined as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions” (HRSA).

  • Patients with limited health literacy are less knowledgeable about preventive care, disease signs, symptoms and management
  • A large-scale national and representative study found that only 12 percent of U.S. adults have proficient health literacy
  • Research indicates a connection between health literacy and health outcomes

The resolutions adopted by the ADA:

  1. Affirm that clear, accurate and effective communication is an essential skill for effective dental practice
  2. Directs the ADA  to “urge the National Institutes of Health, including the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to continue or expand its funding of health literacy research” through the NIH’s multi-institute health literacy program announcement
  3. Directs the Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations (CAPIR), in cooperation with other agencies, to “prepare a five-year strategic action plan to improve the oral health literacy of the public and report to the 2009 House of Delegates.”

The library has selected a variety of resources that may be used to help your patients understand their oral health needs and conditions.  These resources include handouts, videos, podcasts, websites and multi-lingual resources.  See the full list here.


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