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Teaming Up To Provide Dental Services To People With Intellectual Disabilities

Special Olympics, the Golisano Foundation and dentists from The Eastman Institute for Oral Health are teaming up on Saturday to help people with intellectual disabilities. It's only the second time in the nation that a program like this has been done.

It's called "A Day for Special Smiles" and more than 20 Special Olympics athletes will get dental treatment, free of charge. It will take place at an Eastman Dental facility in the Sibley building in Rochester on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Onolee Stephan, director of the Community Health Program for Special Olympics in Rochester, says they have found that a number of people who participate in Special Olympics have dental problems.

“The issue that we’ve uncovered through our special smile screening is that here in New York State, one in four Special Olympics athletes has untreated tooth decay and seven percent of them have pain or infection in their mouth at the time of screening.”

Stephan says that people with intellectual disabilities often have a difficult time finding providers that will accept their insurance and who are comfortable and competent in providing care to people with those disabilities.

The Day for Special Smiles is part of Special Olympics Healthy Communities, which is funded by a $12 million donation from Tom Golisano.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.