J Korean Acad Oral Health.  2012 Jun;36(2):97-105.

A cross-sectional study on oral health literacy and its influencing factors among adults: I. Verbal oral health literacy

  • 1Department of Preventive and Public Health Dentistry, College of Dentistry, Wonkwang University, Iksan, Korea. smagn@wonkwang.ac.kr
  • 2Institute of Biomaterials, Implant and Institute of Wonkwang Dental Research, Wonkwang University, Iksan, Korea.
  • 3Department of Education Policy, Graduate School of Education Policy and Administration, Korea National University of Education, Cheongwon, Korea.


The purpose of this study was to examine verbal oral health literacy and its influencing factors among adults.
The subjects in this study included 760 adults who were selected by convenience sampling from the residents in the cities of Iksan and Jeonju. The data were collected from a self-reported questionnaire survey and interview.
As a result of testing the verbal oral health literacy of adults, 63.7 percent of subjects were deemed to be at a seventh or eighth grade level and 29.1 percent were at a fourth to sixth grade level according to the REALM. The dental term that was the most elusive for the adults was 'eruption', followed by 'apicoectomy', 'cavity', 'inlay' and 'fistula'. Verbal oral health literacy was related to education level, gender, and family income.
The level of oral health literacy was low in many adults. Therefore, easy language should be used as much as possible when oral health education materials are prepared. Furthermore, the development of effective oral health education programs is urgently required in order to improve the oral health literacy of adults.


Adults; Literacy; Oral health; Socioeconomic variable; Verbal
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