BACKGROUND: The authors conducted an observational cohort study to determine the levels of and examine the associations of oral health literacy (OHL) and oral health knowledge in low-income patients who were pregnant for the first time.
METHODS: An analytic sample of 119 low-income patients who were pregnant for the first time completed a structured 30-minute, in-person interview conducted by two trained interviewers in seven counties in North Carolina. The authors measured OHL by means of a dental word recognition test and assessed oral health knowledge by administering a six-item knowledge survey.
RESULTS: The authors found that OHL scores were distributed normally (mean [standard deviation], 16.4 [5.0]). The percentage of correct responses for each oral health knowledge item ranged from 45 to 98 percent. The results of bivariate analyses showed that there was a positive correlation between OHL and oral health knowledge (P < .01). Higher OHL levels were associated with correct responses to two of the knowledge items (P < .01).
CONCLUSIONS: OHL was low in the study sample. There was a significant association between OHL and oral health knowledge.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Low OHL levels and, thereby, low levels of oral health knowledge, might affect health outcomes for both the mother and child. Tailoring messages to appropriate OHL levels might improve knowledge.