A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) hosted the third-annual Day for Special Smiles on Nov. 8, 2013, providing free dental care to 44 people with developmental, intellectual and physical disabilities, including athletes from the Arizona Special Olympics.
Individuals with special needs such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, cognitive disabilities, and hearing impaired were treated at the ATSU-ASDOH Center for Advanced Oral Health. Services provided included X-rays, dental exams, dental cleanings, fluoride treatment, fillings, extractions, and oral hygiene education.
More than 50 ATSU students were involved with the Day for Special Smiles comprising 30 ATSU-ASDOH students, 14 dental residents from the Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) and orthodontic programs, and 13 students from A.T. Still University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine and Arizona School of Health Sciences.
“During the Day for Special Smiles event everyone has a smile on their face,” said Sarah Usher, D4. “This is a day that is made possible through the collaborative efforts of ATSU students, faculty, staff, and a variety community organizations and members.”
Patients from Special Olympics Arizona, VALLEYLIFE, Marc Community Resources, Inc., the Department of Developmental Disabilities, and the Department of Economic Security, received dental care at Day for Special Smiles.
“This was a rewarding day for the faculty as well as the students involved,” said Maureen Romer, DDS, MPA, associate dean of post-doctoral education at ATSU-ASDOH. “Dentistry is the number one unmet health need of people with disabilities. A majority of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have public insurance – like the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). However, there is no AHCCCS dental coverage for individuals over age 21, which means people with these disabilities are essentially without access to oral healthcare.”