DMD student wins American Dental Association essay contest

When Christine Kim DMD 24, returned home after a late night working in the lab recently, she opened her inbox to find some welcome news—that she had won first place in the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Health Literacy Essay Contest.  

“It was really exciting,” Kim said of the news. “I was having a rough week….and then I got the email and was like, ‘is this a dream?’”  

“It was an up and down week at dental school,” she added. “I feel like some of my best and worst moments happen together.”  

The health writing contest ( is sponsored by the ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention, with the objective of increasing students’ knowledge about health literacy principles and building their skills in writing plain language. This year’s essay topic was “More than Teeth: What your Dental Team Wants You To Know About Health Information,” and focused on the importance of dispelling health misinformation that affects patient health.  

Kim entered the contest after hearing about it from Kathy Lituri, clinical assistant professor and oral health promotion director in the Department of Health Policy & Health Services Research.  

 “I personally like to write, so when I heard about it, I got really excited,” Kim said. “I wanted something fun to do, and so I didn’t necessarily expect something to come of it.”  

 In her winning essay, ( Kim focused on misinformation, which is false information shared by people who do not intend to mislead others. Misinformation differs from disinformation, which is oftentimes purposeful in misleading others.  

 In addition to providing a comprehensive definition, Kim traced how health misinformation occurs, and why it matters, in addition to providing tips on how to avoid spreading misinformation.  

 “Our patients…..are going to bring us questions and have certain ideas and expectations based upon things they’ve read online, and in the articles I read, it [said that it] will definitely affect the relationship between any professional in the health field and their patients,” Kim said. “I think it’s something we just all need to be careful about and therefore discuss and figure out how we can all be careful together.”  

 Kim said that the contest provided an opportunity to explore a different style of writing than she was accustomed to—something she enjoyed.  

 “I realized that it’s something you really have to be more conscious about when you’re writing toward the public and toward an audience that may not be as familiar with health terms or topics,” Kim said. “You have to be more conscientious of the words you use and making sure you define everything.”  

 Kim said that she would recommend entering the essay contest, which occurs every year, to her fellow classmates.   

“I learned so much in the process of writing it,” she said. “We haven’t had much practice communicating health ideas to someone else yet and so it gives us a really good opportunity to figure out how to not only be people who know all this information that we learn at school, but how we are going to communicate that.”