This chapter provides a review of the evolution of oral health literacy including its impact on oral health outcomes, the current status of oral health literacy initiatives and future research needs. Using the Healthy People 2010 definition, the chapter describes opportunities needed to improve oral health literacy among health providers as well as individuals/patients, communities and policy-makers. Studies of the two most prevalent dental diseasesâĂŤdental caries and periodontal diseases – reveal that increasing the oral health literacy of the public and health care providers can play a major role in reducing these diseases. Increasing oral health literacy by creating access to accurate knowledge and supporting use of science-based preventive measures is essential. A major part of the chapter describes oral health literacy’s influence in the integration of dental and medical care. The chapter provides an extensive list of research needed to further our understanding of the impact of oral health literacy on health disparities and the health of the population.
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