Record Number of Dental Professionals Participated In Third Special Athletes/Special Smiles

Record Number of Dental Professionals Participated In Third Special Athletes/Special Smiles Initiative

Record Number of Dental Professionals Participated In Third Special Athletes/Special Smiles Initiative

Special Athletes, Special Smiles (SASS), a nationwide oral-health screening, education and referral initiative developed by Special Olympics International and Boston University, announces a banner year in raising national awareness of access to dental-care issues facing the special needs population.

In its third season, SASS recruited 720 local dental professionals from across the country to provide screening, brushing and flossing instruction, as well as dental referrals to 5,650 athletes participating in 12 Special Olympics events. SASS also launched two, new programs to inform dental professionals about the specific issues facing patients with disabilities: a continuing education course for dentists and hygienists and a new care guide titled, "Special Smiles: A Guide to Good Oral Health for Persons with Special Needs."

These two programs were made possible through an unrestricted grant from Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

"As premier sponsor of SASS, Colgate is committed to helping to improve access to dental care for persons with special needs, says Christopher H. Fox, DMD, director of global professional relations for Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals. "We look forward to continuing to build upon the professional outreach component of the program. It is critical that dental professionals are made aware of the special-care issues facing patients with disabilities, as well as offered the opportunity to receive practical, hands-on experience to treat this special population."

This year, SASS piloted a continuing education course in four markets-Philadelphia, Chicago, New Jersey and Boston. More than 80 dental professional volunteers attended. In addition to earning credit, attendees earned practical credits for on-site participation at the SASS events. The Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine provided course accreditation. Steve Perlman, DDS, associate clinical professor, gave the course.

Dr. Perlman stated, "To make change, we must educate professionals on the oral-care issues facing persons with disabilities. The new continuing-education course received such an overwhelming response from the dental community that we plan to expand to all SASS sites in 1997."

The new brochure provides dentists with a practical way to evaluate and tailor a personal oral-hygiene program for patients with disabilities. Dental professionals can receive free copies of the brochure (in packs of 25) by sending their name and address to: Special Smiles Brochure, c/o Fulfillment Inc., 1123 Pearl Street, Brockton, MA 02401.

The 1996 SASS program was offered at Special Olympics events in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio and Trenton.

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