What You Should Know About Oral Health Literacy

November 24, 2008

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.


Oral Health: The Public Speaks

October 20, 2008

The American Dental Association, in collaboration with Crest and Oral-,B conducted a national public opinion survey on oral health care.  The survey represented  1,000 Americans ages 18 and older, living in the continental United States. The survey focused on the following areas:

  • The public’s perceptions of their oral health care, with a special focus on African Americans, Hispanics and lower-income Americans
  • Americans’ knowledge of effective and essential oral health care habits
  • Oral health habits among the nation’s youth
  • The psychological benefits of a healthy smile

Key findings include:

  • Eight out of  ten Americans say taking care of one’s mouth, teeth and gums is “absolutely needed; however, only one-third of them say they do an “excellent” job taking care of them
  • One out of four parents describe their children’s job of taking care of their oral health as fair” or “poor”

More than one in three Americans say:

  • They think a little bleeding from brushing is normal (33%)
  • They are unaware that periodontal disease needs to be treated and cannot be left alone (33%)
  • They don’t know that poor oral health has been associated with serious health conditions such as stroke, heart disease  and diabetes (37%)

The full report and related documents are available on the ADA site.

Links to resources for educating your patients on oral health conditions, treatment and prevention may be found here.

Oral Health Care for Mom and Baby

September 26, 2008

The National Maternal and Oral Health Resource Center has published three new documents related to pregnancy and oral health, and oral health for babies.

The first, Access to Oral Health Care During the Perinatal Period, is a policy brief that provides an overview of barriers to addressing women’s oral health needs during the perinatal period. Evidence from the professional, peer-reviewed literature is cited throughout the document.

The second document  is a summary of practice guidelines for oral health care during pregnancy.  Geared toward prenatal and oral health professionals, the guidelines are intended to bring about changes in the health care delivery system and to improve the overall standard of care for pregnant women.

Lastly, Two Healthy Smiles: Tips to Keep You and Your Baby Healthy  is a brochure designed to educate women about the importance of oral hygiene and oral health care during pregnancy. Topics include brushing, flossing, eating healthy foods, and getting dental checkups and treatment. Additional topics include the impact of hormonal changes during pregnancy on gum health, caring for an infant’s gums and teeth, and finding a dentist.

View the latest publications on pregnancy and oral health, as indexed in PubMed here. 




National Smile Month

May 15, 2008

National Smile Month, an oral health education campaign, will be held May 18 to June 17. 

For over thirty years the United Kingdom has celebrated National Smile Month.  This year, the United States, through a partnership between Oral Health America and the British Dental Health Foundation will also participate.  

The campaign promotes key oral health messages, and encourages participation at any level by dental practices, clinics, schools, medical practices, community centers, and others who would like to raise the profile of oral health.

Read about National Smile Month here.  

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