August 16, 2017
Students, faculty and staff had an opportunity to learn more about caring for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities during a recent presentation by one of the global leaders in the field of special care dentistry.
Steven Perlman, DDS, MScD, DHL (Hon.) global clinical director and founder of Special Olympics Special Smiles spoke on the topic of "Special Olympics: From Special Smiles to Healthy Athletes" during a lunch and learn presentation on August 9. Dr. Perlman has extensive experience through his private practice and his role as clinical professor of pediatric dentistry at the Boston University School of Dental Medicine, along with his international advocacy for people with special needs.
Dr. Perlman shared details about the creation of the Special Olympics Special Smiles program and its involvement at more than 200 Special Olympics International events around the world. Special Smiles offers dental screenings, health education and prevention services, and refers athletes to potential sources of treatment and follow-up care. Dental professionals, students and residents provide oral screenings; oral health education and personal prevention products; and individually fitted sports mouth guards, if needed.
He also gave examples of research findings based on data from thousands of Special Smiles screenings around the world through the use of standardized oral health screenings.
The history of Special Smiles goes back to 1994 when Dr. Perlman founded the initiative after working with the Shriver family as they struggled to find adequate dental care for Rosemary Kennedy, a sister of Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Dugoni School students and faculty members recently had an opportunity to volunteer with the Special Smiles program. Over the summer break, a group from the school helped support the care for athletes attending the Special Olympics Northern California Summer Games held June 23-25 in Davis, Calif. Dr. Lynne Wong, who volunteers for Special Olympics, was the local Clinic Director who helped coordinate pre-dental groups, dental and hygiene students, postdoctoral residents, and faculty and staff for the event.
Dr. Allen Wong, professor and director of the school's AEGD program and director of the Hospital Dentistry program, is also closely involved with Special Smiles. He serves as a Global Clinical Advisor for the program and has recently attended events such as the 2017 Special Olympics Winter World Games held in Austria.
The lunch and learn session was co-hosted by the school's student chapter of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry and the Student Community Outreach for Public Education (SCOPE) program.