Delta Dental of Wisconsin awards grant to Special Olympics
By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — Delta Dental of Wisconsin will continue to put smiles on the faces of Special Olympics athletes, as they have awarded a $30,000 grant to continue the Special Olympics Special Smiles program.
According to data from Special Olympics Wisconsin, 47 percent of all athletes have periodontal conditions, 24 percent have untreated tooth decay, 12 percent have dental pain, and 10 percent are in need of urgent care. This program seeks to help those numbers drop by having volunteer dentists conduct screenings and oral health education sessions and prevention services at the 2018 summer games on June 8 at UWSP. Screenings will run from 9AM – 3PM.
The Special Smiles program has helped 5,101 athletes and attendees receive screenings over the past 10 years. According to a press release by Delta Dental,
“…screenings are conducted at four major Special Olympics Wisconsin events around the state by a large group of volunteer dentists, hygienists and other general volunteers. All screening participants receive oral health education, dental care supplies, fluoride varnish, and, if appropriate for the sport they are participating in, are fitted for a mouth guard. Those athletes needing follow-up care are referred to a dentist in their community or Mission of Mercy.”
“Special Olympics Wisconsin is very grateful to be the recipient of this grant from Delta Dental of Wisconsin,” said Melissa Schoenbrodt, Senior Director of Health Programs at Special Olympics Wisconsin. “We recognize how critically important oral health is to a person’s quality of life. Many of our athletes have already felt the positive effects of our Special Smiles program and we’re excited for the opportunity to continue the program and change even more lives across Wisconsin.”
According to Ann Boson, Director, Charitable Fund & Community Relations, Delta Dental of Wisconsin, the effects of the program have helped a large number of athletes improve their dental health.
“The numbers of athletes with urgent need has dropped drastically,” said Boson. “We know they’re taking better care of their mouths — they’re getting some of that dental care that they weren’t getting before, and even compared to others, we’re [Wisconsin Special Olympics athletes] ahead of the national average.”
The ultimate goal for the program, which has been in practice since 2002, is to simply help as many athletes with their dental needs as possible. This includes a lot of help from Delta Dental employees across the state.
“We have many employees who volunteer at other events, aside from the Special Olympics Summer Games,” said Bosen. “Our employees are very involved with the Special Olympics summer games.”