UConn Dental Students Deliver Healthy Smiles at Special Olympics Games

Students from the UConn School of Dental Medicine volunteer at the 2019 Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Games. (Stephanie Tsui photo)

Once again, volunteers from the UConn School of Dental Medicine helped keep smiles healthy and bright during the 2019 Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Games. UConn has been providing free oral health screenings and preventive services to athletes for over two decades through the Special Olympics Special Smiles program.

The 2019 Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Games were held from June 8-9 at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Conn. Over 20 UConn dental students—along with UConn faculty and dental hygiene students from Tunxis Community College— offered free oral health screenings, provided mouth guards and oral hygiene instruction, and administered topical fluoride to over 120 athletes at the event.

“Every year, the dental students look forward to the Summer Games with Special Olympics. This event is an opportunity for students in all class years to volunteer and teach athletes about oral health,” said third-year student and Special Care Dentistry Interest Group board member Stephanie Tsui. “We love to see all of the athletes excited to come by our station after their big sporting events and we look forward to seeing them again next year.”

The screenings at the Special Smiles clinic are conducted as part of the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program which provides a wide range of free health screenings to bring enhanced fitness, nutrition, and health to all Special Olympians.

The student-run Special Care Dentistry Interest Group at UConn seeks to advance capability, capacity, and commitment to serving patients who require special care using integrated skills. The group also hosts events and volunteer opportunities such as the Summer Games to educate students about patients with a wide range of disabilities and special needs.

In addition to the Summer Games, UConn dental students also participate in the Special Olympics Holiday Sports Classic held each November as well as other Special Olympics Connecticut events. In 2016, the School of Dental Medicine received the Golisano Health Leadership Award for the school’s engagement with Special Olympics.