Oral health literacy : workshop summary by Hewitt, Maria Elizabeth

By Hewitt, Maria Elizabeth

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By Hewitt, Maria Elizabeth

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A group of about 15 to 20 medical students from Drexel comes to the dental school to learn about oral surgery, dental and craniofacial diagnosis, dental radiology practices, and pediatric dentistry. Other dental schools have similar collaborative programs. Perhaps trained medical students could receive some sort of board certification as a medical student in dental training, he said. The dental professionals need to reach out to all health professions. Roundtable member Cindy Brach asked the panel to describe what health literate consumers of oral health do, not what they know, but what they do.

For oral cancer, there are significant variations in rates of disease by race/ethnicity, Ismail said. Existing attempts to address these disparities tend to be piecemeal in nature and lack a necessary focus on systems of care. There is, Ismail said, a need to create a new national strategy that focuses on health promotion. Ismail concluded by saying that literacy is an important foundation for health. In order to achieve literacy, interventions must range from the global to the community, to the family, and to the individuals within the family.

Materials are used that are designed to reach individuals of low literacy. Raising the awareness of the community also benefits oral health. Bright Smiles, Bright Futures partners with national and local communitybased groups, as well as religious, fraternal, and civic organizations in fun and engaging ways. The program participates in large community festivals and multicultural events. In addition, partnerships have been formed with the media and public relations groups to promote oral health literacy.

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