236785 Maryland Adults Knowledge of Fluoride and Use of Tap Water

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 12:50 PM

Alice M. Horowitz, PhD , Center for Health Literacy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Min Qi Wang, PhD, MS , Department of Behavioral and Community Health, University of Maryland School of Public Health, College Park, MD
Dushanka V. Kleinman, DDS, MScD , College of Health & Human Performance, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Background: The best way to prevent dental caries is the appropriate use of fluorides. For decades community water fluoridation has been the corner stone of caries prevention. Yet little overt education has taken place about this preventive measure. Objectives: To investigate differences among Maryland adults regarding whether they know if their tap water is fluoridated, whether they filter it , whether they and their children drink tap water and if they know the purpose of fluoride. Methods: Nine questions were included in a random digit dial telephone survey administered to 803 Maryland adults 18 years of age and older who had a child in the house six and younger. Land and cell phones were used. The data analysis included percentages, cross tabulations, and chi-square tests. Results: The response rate was 26%. Nearly all respondents (98%) had heard of fluoride but only 58% knew its purpose. Adults with high school education were significantly less likely to know if their tap water is fluoridated (p<0.001) and were significantly less likely to drink tap water or give it to their child (p<0.001) than those with higher education. Further, children who were on Medicaid, those most in need for caries prevention, were significantly less likely than those with private insurance to drink tap water. Conclusion: A major educational intervention is needed to educate the public about the benefits and appropriate use of fluoride in our water supplies.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Communication and informatics
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain the level of oral health knowledge among Maryland adults and its potential impact on health outcomes. Use the results to make a difference in their community/state.

Keywords: Health Literacy, Oral Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been working in this area for decades
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.