13:58 PM

Putting Teeth in Health Literacy Month

Nearly 9 out of 10 adults have difficulty using routine health information according to the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy. Increasing health literacy, defined as “the ability for consumers to read, understand and act upon health information,” is an important way to improve the health of Americans. However, this is a lot easier said than done. The healthcare industry is plagued with complex terms and explanations, leaving patients confused and unclear about how to stay healthy. This is especially true when it comes to oral health. Fortunately, October is Health Literacy Month.

Oral health literacy is an important factor in achieving true health literacy. Oral health plays a significant role in overall health and dental disease can affect your quality of life so understanding how to properly care for your teeth and gums is imperative to staying healthy.

The theme of this year’s Health Literacy Month is “Health Literacy Heroes” so we put together a list of tips you can follow to become an oral health literacy hero:

1. Improve communication with your dentist
· Before you leave for your dentist appointment, make a list of your current medications, write down your questions and bring paper to take notes
· Ask questions if something is not clear
· Request written materials in plain language
· Know your risk factors and if you don’t, have a conversation about it (click here for tips about how to talk to your dentist about risk)

2. Utilize materials that are easy to read, understand and use
· Health Information Translationsprovides free access to more than 3,000 health education resources in up to 18 languages
· Massachusetts Health Quality Partners posts health care quality data in ways the public can understand

3. Visit our Oral health Library, which provides important information written in plain language about adult oral health, pediatric oral health, the relationship between oral health and diabetes, and other general oral health topics. The library is also available in Spanish.

Learn more about Health Literacy Month here.