Putting Health Literacy into Oral Health Practice and Public Health Initiatives
You will receive 1 credit(s) of continuing education credit upon successful completion of this course.


This course defines the practice of oral health literacy, explains the importance of oral health literacy in dental practice and describes strategies to incorporate health literacy in dental practice.


Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this course, the participant should be able to:

  1. Describe why there is an imbalance in the public’s basic oral health literacy and the knowledge needed to prevent oral disease.
  2. Provide oral health information and services that make it easier for the patient to understand and use.
  3. Describe the promising public health and patient education strategies needed to improve oral healthcare.


Dr. Terry Davis, a pioneer in the field of health literacy discusses the topic of health literacy, provides rationale for using health literacy practices and methods that incorporate health literacy when providing oral health related information.

  1. Why Focus on Oral Health and Oral Health Literacy?
  2. Literacy Definition
  3. How Does Literacy Affect Dental Practice?
  4. Health Literacy Considerations for Dental Visits
  5. Evaluating Patient Education Materials
  6. Considerations for Improving Oral Health Literacy
  7. Useful Health Literacy Resources

  1. CDC (2013) Clear Communication Index.  Tool for developing and assessing health materials.  http://www.cdc.gov/healthcommunication/ClearCommunicationIndex/
  2. CMS (2011)  Toolkit for making written materials clear and effective www.cms.gov/writtenmaterialstoolkit/
  3. AHRQ (2013) The Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT) and User’s Guide
  4. Health Literacy Universal Precautions(2010) (clinic based system) www.ahrq.gov/qual/literacy/
  5. DHHS National Action Plan: Improving Health Literacy
  6. www.health.gov/communication/HLactionplan
  7. Horowitz A, et al. Use of Recommended Communication Techniques by Maryland Dental Hygienists. J Dent Hygiene. 2013; 84(4):212-21.
  8. Horowitz A, et al. What Maryland Adults With Young Children Know and Do About Preventing Dental Caries. Am J Pub Health. 2013; 103(6):e69-76
  9. Horowitz A, et al. Opinions of Maryland Adults Regarding Communication Practices of Dentists and Staff. J Health Comm. 2012; 17:1204-14.
  10. Roter D, et al. Oral literacy demand of health care communication: Challenges and solutions. Nurs Outlook. 2011; 59:79-84.
  11. Rozier R, et al. Dentist-patient communication techniques used in the United States: the results of a national survey.  J Am Dent Assoc.  2011; 142(5):518-30.
  12. Sabbahi DA, et al. Development and evaluation of an oral health literacy instrument for adults.  Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 2009; 37:451-462
  13. Richman JA, et al. Evaluation of a Word Recognition Instrument to Test Health Literacy in Dentistry: The REALD-99. J Pub Health Dentistry. 2007; 67(2):99-104
  14. Gong DA, et al. Development and Testing of the Test of Functional Health Literacy in Dentistry (TOFHLiD). J Pub Health Dentistry. 2007; 67(2):105-112
  15. Lee JY, et al. Development of a Word Recognition Instrument to Test health Literacy in Dentistry: The REALD-30- A Brief Communication. 2007; 67(2):94-98
  16. Committee on an Oral Health Initiative: Advancing Oral Health in America. IOM, 2011
  17. Committee on Oral Health Access to Services: Improving Access to Oral Health Care for Vulnerable and Underserved Populations. IOM, 2011
  18. Hewitt M; Oral Health Literacy Workshop Summary. IOM, 2013
  19. Ismail A, Sohn W: The impact of universal access to dental care on disparities in caries experience in children. J Am Dent Assoc; 2001:132,295-303
  20. Jackson S, et al; Impact of Poor Oral Health on Children’s School Attendance and Performance. Am J Pub Health. 2011;101(10):1900-1907
  21. Petersen PE, Kwan S; Equity, social determinants and public health programmes- the case of oral health. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2011;39:481-487
  22. Rozier R; Oral Health in North Carolina: Innovations, Opportunities, and Challenges. NCMJ. 2012;73(2):100-107
  23. Seirawan H, et al; Oral health-related quality of life and perceived dental needs in the US. J Pub Health Dent. 2011; 71:194-201
  24. U.S. DHHS; National Call To Action To Promote Oral Health. NIH Publication No. 03-5303, Spring 2003


American Dental Association is an ADA CERP Recognized Provider.

ADA CERP is a service of the American Dental Association to assist dental professionals in identifying quality providers of continuing dental education. ADA CERP does not approve or endorse individual courses or instructors, nor does it imply acceptance of credit hours by boards of dentistry.