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Research Finds New Approaches To Improving America’s Oral Health Literacy

The Delta Dental Institute has published a white paper examining the state of health literacy in America and its impact on oral and overall health outcomes.

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The Delta Dental Institute has published a white paper examining the state of health literacy in America and its impact on oral and overall health outcomes. Improving America’s Oral Health Literacydraws on an existing body of literature to assess health literacy gaps and evaluate how improvements can enable Americans to make more informed decisions about their oral health.

The white paper documents that while most Americans recognize the connection between oral health and overall health, a discrepancy in outcomes remains, due in part to low levels of health literacy and inadequate consideration of social determinants of health. The paper details how low health literacy is associated with poorer health outcomes and lower-than-average use of health care services. Conversely, high levels of oral health literacy facilitate effective dentist-patient communication, which has a direct positive impact on preventive, diagnostic, and restorative oral health services.

The paper identifies three actionable recommendations for improving America’s oral health literacy, including: developing dental health literacy training modules; adapting the after-visit summary for use in dentistry; and providing plain-language clinical and dental insurance educational information to all patients. It also explores the current state of medical-dental integration and emerging solutions that would benefit patients, especially those with chronic diseases.

The white paper was commissioned by the Delta Dental Institute and is co-authored by Kathryn A. Atchison, DDS, MPH (UCLA School of Dentistry), Alice M. Horowitz, PhD (University of Maryland School of Public Health), and Nicole D. Holland, DDS, MS (Tufts School of Dental Medicine).

The full white paper is available on the Delta Dental Institute’s website and can be downloaded directly here.

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