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Pacific Teams Up with Special Olympics During Summer Games

June  18, 2007

Volunteers from the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry provided free oral health evaluations for nearly 150 Special Olympics athletes during the Special Olympics Special Smiles® program held Saturday, June 9. More than 50 Pacific students, faculty and staff were on hand to conduct dental screenings, provide oral health education and make custom mouthguards for the athletes.

Held in conjunction with the Special Olympics Summer Games, Special Smiles is a nation-wide program that aims to improve access to dental care for athletes with special needs, as well as all people with intellectual disabilities. One of the primary objectives of the program is to gather and analyze data about each athlete who receives a dental screening. This data is used to demonstrate a need for increased access to care for patients with special needs. Additionally, the program is a tool for identifying potential oral health issues early and to refer the athletes to a dentist for follow-up care.

"Access to dental care should not be an Olympic obstacle," said Dr. Allen Wong, assistant professor and assistant director of Pacific's Advanced Education in General Dentistry program. "Pacific's participation in Special Olympics Special Smiles® shows we are serious about providing care for patients with special needs and educating the health care providers of the future."

Dentist and long-time Special Olympics supporter Dr. Steve Perlman founded Special Smiles in 1993 to provide oral health screenings and dental hygiene education to Special Olympics athletes. Dental screenings are a way to increase oral health awareness for the athletes themselves, as well as their parents and/or caregivers.

Category Type: Community Outreach

Contact:  Office of Public Relations, 415.929.6434, pr@pacific.edu