Measuring Oral health literacy in dental patients: Contribution towards preventive dentistry in Pakistan

Wardah Ahmed1                           BDS, MSPH, PhD
Syed Muzzamil Ali Shah2          BDS, Grad.Dip 
Umer Khayyam3                           BDS, MSc
Tanzeela Sheikh4                         BDS
Natasha Anwer5                            BDS


Oral health literacy (OHL) is essential for identification of ways to access health related information and its application to control over the healthy life. Oral health literacy covers knowledge and reading skills, understanding/comprehension and decision-making skills. This study aimed to measure the OHL level of patients attending private dental hospital.

METHODOLODY: Cross-sectional descriptive study design was used. After taking informed consent the validated modified structured Functional Oral Health Literacy questionnaire (OHL-L) was administered consisted of demography, oral health knowledge and oral health literacy items.

RESULTS: A total of 285 participants (131 male and 154 female) included in the study. The mean age of participants was 38.2 years (standard deviation [SD] = 1.3). Overall, 32(11.2%) had inadequate, 164(57.5%) had marginal and 89(31.2%) had adequate oral health literacy. There was statistically significant difference among OHL-Levels with age groups (p=.001) and educational years (p=.002).

CONCLUSION: The study concluded that marginal oral health literacy pertaining in the adult patients visiting private dental hospital. There is a need to look at the health literacy in the context of large systems-social systems, cultural systems, education systems and public health systems. Further investigation is needed to develop appropriate intervention strategies to improve oral health literacy for better oral health outcomes. The effectiveness of the health program lies in the fact that people need to understand and interpret it correctly to lead a good quality of life.

KEY WORDS: MesH words: Oral Health Literacy, Functional health Literacy, Health Education, Preventive Dentistry, Oral Care.

HOW TO CITE: Ahmed W, Shah SMA, Khayyam U, Sheikh T, Anwer N. J Pak Dent Assoc 2017;26(4):176-80. DOI:

Received: 13 October, 2017, Accepted: 23 November, 2017