The Healthy Athletes program is dedicated to providing health services and education to Special Olympics athletes, and changing the way health systems interact with people with intellectual disabilities. Through free health screenings, training of healthcare professionals, and evaluation of the health status of people with intellectual disabilities, Healthy Athletes has become a powerful public health organization worldwide.
Special Smiles is the dental health discipline of Special Olympics Healthy Athletes that provides athletes with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to take charge of their oral health. Special Smiles provides comprehensive oral health care information, offers free dental screenings and instructions on correct brushing and flossing techniques to Special Olympics athletes. This also includes issuing preventative supplies, like toothpaste, toothbrushes and fluoride varnish.
IMPORTANCE AND IMPACTSpecial Smiles screenings have found that a large percentage of Special Olympics athletes are unaware of the condition of their oral health. Athletes are evaluated through a series of stations that include: Oral Screening, Hygiene, Mouth Guards, and Fluoride.
46% have peridontal conditions36% have untreated tooth decay14% are in need of urgent care12% have dental pain
PURPOSE AND GOALS• Increase access to dental care for Special Olympics athletes, as well as people with intellectual disabilities• Raise dental professionals’ awareness of the oral health concerns of people with special needs, including difficulties involved in accessing care• Develop a body of knowledge about the oral health care needs of children and adults with disabilities SPECIAL SMILES
VOLUNTEER MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS BACKGROUND AND REQUIREMENTS• Current licensure as a Dentist, Dental Hygienist, or Dental Students