Date of Scholarly Project Submission


Degree Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)



Faculty Chairperson

Dr. Kristi Robinia

Second Committee Member

Dr. Terry Delpier

Third Committee Member

Dr. Marguerite Moore


Tooth decay ranks first as the most common chronic disease in childhood (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], 2000). In addition to the morbidity directly related to cavities, there are a myriad of other systemic implications of this disease. The purpose of the study was to determine baseline oral health literacy levels for a sample of pediatric caregivers living in the Upper Peninsula and to determine the impact of a community based education program on these levels. The program was offered at three locations. A paired sample t-test of sixty-four complete data sets demonstrated a statistically significant increase in oral health literacy levels after the implementation of a community-based educational program. Results indicated that participants had a statistically significant increase in knowledge. Scores reflecting oral health literacy rose from 68.8% on the pre-test to 92.6% on the post-test. Areas showing the largest improvement in knowledge were as follows: when a child first needs to see a dentist, germs cause cavities, smoking in the home increases cavities and mothers/caregivers can pass on cavity causing germs to children. This study confirms a need for further oral health education. Increasing oral health literacy levels in caregivers may lead to an increase in oral health seeking behaviors and a decrease in preventable dental caries in the pediatric population. Decreasing dental disease has the potential to increase overall health.