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June 06, 2014 | North America: New York

A Day for Special Smiles an Eye Opener for Dentists

By Onolee Stephan

Dentists at A Day for Special Smiles in Rochester, NY. Drs. Alexis Ghanem, Bhumija Gupta, and Vineela Redla.

The impact of A Day for Special Smiles was visible through the smiles of the Special Olympics New York athletes who got free dental care. Not as visible, but was equally as profound was the impact the event had on the volunteer dental professionals. “This event was an eye opener for me. It has inspired me to get more involved and to create more ways to provide care to patients with intellectual disabilities (ID)” says Dr. Bhumija Gupta, Faculty at the Eastman Institute for Oral Health. Studies have shown that dental professionals have little or no exposure to treating people with ID and that one of the biggest challenges people with ID face in accessing dental care is finding a dentist who will care for them. A Day for Special Smiles is a part of the Golisano Foundation funded Healthy Communities initiative that Special Olympics New York is implementing to help overcome these challenges and to open the doors to dental care to all people with ID.

About Onolee Stephan: Onolee Stephan, MPH; Director, Community Health Programs

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