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Oral Health Literacy - Workshop Summary


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Note: Proceedings contain the opinion of the presenters, but do NOT reflect the conclusions of the Health and Medicine Division or the National Academies. Learn more about the differences between Reports and Proceedings.

Oral health and oral health literacy are of national interest as demonstrated in the recommendations of two recent IOM reports - Advancing Oral Health in America and Improving Access to Oral Health Care for Vulnerable and Underserved Populations - as well as in the objectives of the HHS Healthy People 2020. Limited oral health literacy is associated with inaccurate knowledge about preventive measures such as water fluoridation, dental care visits, and oral health-related quality of life. The public and health care providers are largely unaware of the basic risk factors and preventive regimens for many oral diseases. Oral disease is expensive in terms of teeth, time, and money and results in pain, disfigurement, loss of school and work days, and even death when left untreated.

The IOM Roundtable on Health Literacy was interested in exploring findings from oral health literacy research and how such findings are being translated into oral health practice as well as the intersection between oral health literacy and health literacy. The roundtable held a workshop on March 29, 2012, to examine the field of oral health literacy. This document summarizes the workshop.