Bringing out those “special smiles”

Special Olympics Samoa began their Prevention Programme against Tooth Decay for Dental Health last week. They started at Aoga Fiamalamalama with assistance from the National Health Services Dental team. 

Visiting Japanese Dentist, Hiroyuki Urasaki, supported the team in carrying out the programme on the day for students with intellectual disabilities.

The programme is part of Special Olympics Samoa’s Healthy Communities and Healthy Athletes Programme called “Special Smiles”. 

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The Special Smiles discipline of Healthy Athletes provides comprehensive oral health care information. The programme identified that often, people with intellectual disabilities are unaware of the condition of their oral health and often lack adequate care or enough attention towards their dental health. 

These groups are vulnerable to tooth decay and other related health problems, as they may be sensitive to put anything in their mouth or find it difficult or uncomfortable to brush their teeth thoroughly and cleanly. 

The people behind the programme recognise that prevention programmes like this, utilising fluoride mouth rinse, which is used once a week, can vastly improve the dental health of individuals. 

Special Olympics Samoa and their Healthy Communities and Healthy Athlete Coordinator, Riari Tabata, hopes to be able to carry out this programme for all people with disabilities within schools and rural communities to ensure that they have the knowledge, opportunity and access to appropriate dental health care. 

 “The help from the National Health Services Dental team has been invaluable,” said Ms. Tabata. 

“The support from the Heath sector and government is essential in ensuring people with disabilities are able to access without boundaries information and tools to equip and educate not only people with disabilities but their families and communities to properly care for their overall oral health.”

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