California Oral Health Literacy Toolkit helps dentists implement OHL during patient visits

Downloadable toolkit available now at no cost
August 9, 2021
Quick Summary:
Diverse dental providers tested and recommended changes to several iterations of the toolkit, which includes (1) a guidebook for implementing oral health literacy at every patient touchpoint, (2) a checklist for assessing the practice’s OHL preparedness, (3) a quick reference for using teach-back with patients and (4) a health literacy action plan that dental teams can use to write down goals and identify the steps to reach them.

The California Oral Health Literacy Toolkit is a new digital resource to help oral health care providers learn or review the basic principles of oral health literacy, including the importance of communicating clearly and with cultural humility and creating a welcoming environment for patients. 

Two years of background studies, conducted by the UC Berkeley Health Research for Action Center in collaboration with the California Office of Oral Health, informed the toolkit’s development. Studies included a literature review, scan of health literacy training resources for dental professionals and interviews with oral health literacy experts and California dental providers. Diverse dental providers tested and recommended changes to several iterations of the toolkit.

“Improving oral health literacy is a recommended strategy in the California Oral Health Plan,” said State Dental Director Jayanth Kumar, DDS, MPH, about the toolkit’s launch. “We know that more effective communication results in better patient health, and we are excited to provide this comprehensive toolkit for dental team members to use.”

The toolkit, which will be featured in the September issue of the Journal of the California Dental Association, includes:

  • Oral Health Literacy in Practice: This guidebook reviews the essential principles of OHL and suggests ways to implement OHL at every touchpoint of patient visits.
  • Practice Assessment Checklist: Practices can use this checklist to easily assess the practice’s OHL preparedness.
  • What Is Teach-Back: This quick reference provides example-based learning and shows how to use teach-back with patients.
  • Health Literacy Action Plan: Dental teams can use this worksheet to write down health literacy goals and identify the steps to reach them.
  • Going to the Dentist: This brochure uses clear communication to guide patients through the “before, during and after” of dental visits.

Providers can access the toolkit now on the Oral Health Technical Assistance Center’s website.

The toolkit is complemented with training for dental providers and community members. The next training, “Oral Health Literacy: Achieving Patient Behavior Through Effective Communication,” will take place Sept. 11 at CDA Presents The Art and Science of Dentistry.


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