Release Date: March 1, 2017
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine will host its first Smile Day at the Museum Health Fair, offering dental screenings to children and adults with special needs, an overlooked population in dental care.
The event, held in partnership with the Museum of Disability History, will include dental carnival activities, information on the Special Olympics and screenings for dozens of people with intellectual disabilities from schools and community service agencies around Western New York.
Guests will also receive the opportunity to sign the Spread the Word to End the R Word pledge, a national campaign to encourage people to remove the hateful and derogatory term “retard” from everyday speech and to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.
When: Thursday, March 2 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: The Museum of Disability History at 3826 Main St. in Buffalo
Who: The event is held in collaboration with the UB student chapter of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry and the Museum of Disability History. Additional partners include the Golisano Foundation, Special Olympics and the UB Student Wellness Team.
On-site contact is Marcene Robinson, firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-207-5814.
Why: More than 55 million people in the U.S. – or nearly one in five people – have a disability, and almost one in six children are diagnosed with a developmental disability, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Yet, despite the high prevalence of Americans living with disabilities, access to dental care remains a major hurdle for families with children with special needs. One major cause: oral health care professionals lack the training or experience to treat them.
“Too many times when we think of underserved populations, we think of inner cities, and ignore the most underserved population that there is – people with intellectual disabilities,” says Steven Perlman, DDS, professor of pediatric dentistry at Boston University and founder of the Special Olympics, Special Smiles, a global oral health screening and education program offered in partnership with the Special Olympics.
Smile Day at the Museum Health Fair marks a renewed focus by UB Dental to increase access to dental care in Western New York for people with disabilities. Following screenings, guests without a primary dentist will receive help from volunteers with finding a dental home. Tomorrow’s event will also offer UB dental students the opportunity to work with patients with special needs, as well as learn about the history of disabilities through the museum.
With the help of Perlman, who travels to the university each month to help train residents and plan outreach programs, UB has increased course offerings designed to train students on how to care for patients with disabilities.
“The future of dental care for this vulnerable population lies in the proper training and exposure for our dental students,” says M. Dian ChinKit-Wells, DDS, clinical assistant professor in the UB School of Dental Medicine and Smile Day at the Museum Health Fair coordinator.
“What I would like everyone to know is that we graduate students who do not hesitate if their patient says, 'I have a family member who is disabled. Would you take a look at them too?'”