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February 01, 2013 | Middle East North Africa: Egypt

“I Thank God that we Came Here”

By Karl Hejlik

Hussein Yassin's exam revealed the extent of his dental problem.

That was the reaction of Mohamed Sawar, a coach from Egypt, after one of his athletes – Hussein Yassin, a 29-year-old snowshoe competitor – was seen at the Special Olympics Special Smiles venue at World Winter Games in Korea. Hussein hadn’t slept in 3 nights because of severe pain from an infected tooth. His discomfort started shortly after arriving in South Korea. After a trip to the hospital, he received antibiotics to treat the infection but doctors there gave him nothing for the pain, and he had no way to pay for the necessary dental work, either in Korea or back home. Fortunately, this wasn’t an issue. Volunteer dentists extracted the decayed tooth and provided a full cleaning free of charge. As all athletes who come through Special Smiles, Hussein also received toothpaste, a toothbrush, and instruction on how best to care for his teeth so he can avoid future tooth decay.

About Karl Hejlik: Senior Manager, Health and Research Communications

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