Storytelling, sugar snacking, and toothbrushing rules: a proposed theoretical and developmental perspective on children's health and oral health literacy

Ruth Freeman (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)
147 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Health literacy has been conceptualised to explain how health information facilitates the maintenance of health. What are the clinical implications of children's health literacy? Children have language skills, numeracy, and reading skills that are in a state of flux - how do they decipher and encode adult health messages to make them their own?

Aim: To explore children's health and oral health literacy and discover what processes they use to convert adult health messages into useable information. Methods: Observations and descriptive case study approach.

Results: A theoretical and developmental perspective on children's health and oral health literacy, based upon the ability of the adult to provide a health message with a common shared element, is proposed. It is this common element that the child uses to make adult words understandable and to generate health action.

Conclusions: Children's health and oral health literacy development is achieved, through, a torturous path, supported by the way adults provide health messages to children. Taking time to identify this common element, helping children to encode and reflect upon the health message will help children convert adult oral health messages into their own oral health practices, and support their emerging health and oral health literacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-348
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Paediatric Dentistry
Issue number5
Early online date8 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015



  • child health literacy
  • oral health literacy
  • sugar snacking
  • toothbrushing

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