Special Smiles was created increase access to dental care for Special Olympics athletes, as well as all people with intellectual disabilities.
Dental screenings are used as a way to increase awareness of the state of the athletes’ oral health, as well as provide information to their parents and/or caregivers.
Athletes are given hygiene education to help ensure they are doing an adequate job of brushing and flossing, as well as nutritional education to understand how their diet affects their overall health.
At Special Smiles screenings, dental professionals provide health education, prevention services and refer athletes for follow-up care. Athletes are given a new toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss. Free mouth guards are provided for athletes competing in contact or high-risk sports. Athletes that have completed a permission slip also receive a fluoride varnish.
Special Smiles screenings throughout the US have found that a large percentage of our athletes are unaware of the condition of their oral health.
- 47% have periodontal conditions
- 24% have untreated tooth decay
- 12% have dental pain
- 10% are in need of urgent care