News Release — Vermont State Dental Society
June 5, 2013
South Burlington – On Saturday, June 8th, more than 150 of Vermont’s Special Olympians will be in the throes of two days of festivities and competition at the University of Vermont. At the same time, Vermont dentists, hygienists, assistants, volunteers and dental students from New England dental schools will also be very busy, conducting oral health screenings of the athletes.
“Among all of the volunteer and professional events we participate in every year, the Special Smiles effort is our absolute favorite. Volunteers who help us in the dental screening tent come back year after year, rain or shine. It is extremely rewarding to meet the athletes and coordinate with family members and caregivers to improve oral health,” said Dr. Brian Shuman, a periodontist in South Burlington and co-chair of the Special Smiles program.
The VSDS and Northeast Delta Dental sponsor Special Olympics Smiles annually. The Patterson Dental Supply Company donates the necessary supplies to enable the participating oral health care professionals to screen more than 150 athletes of all ages during the Summer Games.
“Since we have been providing dental screenings and follow up treatment at the Special Olympics, we have seen a steady improvement in the oral health of the athletes,“ said Dr. Nevin Zablotsky, a periodontist who has helped organize and been Chairman of the Special Smiles program for the past 15 years. “It has been shown that individuals with intellectual disabilities have had difficulty in gaining access to receiving adequate health care. If we can maximize the health of this population, they can perform at optimum levels athletically and gain confidence in their abilities. This can then carry over to helping athletes better integrate into society,” he adds.
This is the 21st year of Special Olympics Smiles, and VSDS is pleased to welcome 15 dental students from dental schools throughout New England as volunteers to the effort. “We couldn’t think of a better way to show dental students the importance of volunteering, the community spirit, and rewarding experience of practicing dentistry in Vermont,” said Vaughn Collins, Executive Director of VSDS.
The Special Olympics Vermont Summer Games Opening Ceremony is at 7 pm, Friday June 7, 2013 at the University of Vermont track. Competition begins at 9:15 am on Saturday, June 8, 2013.