WI-DHA members are proud to be a part of the “Special Smiles®” program. Special Smiles® is one of the core components of the Special Olympics “Healthy Athletes®” initiative, created to focus attention on the overall health issues facing Special Olympics athletes.
1. Increase access to dental care for Special Olympics athletes, as well as all people with intellectual disabilities.
2. Raise dental professionals’ awareness of the oral health concerns of people with special needs, including difficulties involved in accessing care.
3. Develop a body of knowledge about the oral health care needs of children and adults with disabilities.
4. Provide a list of regional dental professionals who care for people with special needs to all athletes who participate in Special Smiles
At Special Smiles® screenings, dental professionals provide screenings, health education and 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
Health care professionals and volunteers receive free training on the specific needs of individuals with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to return to their practices and classrooms with increased knowledge of and compassion for these patients.
Wisconsin hygienists and student hygienists are encouraged to volunteer. Volunteer Registration may be completed by downloading the registration form below, online at Special Olympics Wisconsin “Healthy Athletes®” page, or by contacting Special Olympics Wisconsin directly. Feel free to contact WI-DHA to connect with others volunteering in the program.
Learn more about Wisconsin Special Olympics “Healthy Athletes®” through this video.
Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) provides year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy while participating in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, Special Olympics athletes and the community.**
Special Smiles® Event Funding was provided by Delta Dental of Wisconsin, Inc.