This year marked the tenth anniversary of what has become a special relationship between an MUSC volunteer dental group and athletes involved with the Special Olympics.
The group, Special Olympics Special Smiles, recently helped athletes at the Special Olympics midterm winter games on March 5 at The Citadel. It included MUSC faculty, dental students and private dentists.
Program Founder Carlos F. Salinas, DMD, professor of the College of Dental Medicine (CDM), said the group has screened more than 1,300 athletes since it began in 2001. "This year we were celebrating our tenth anniversary and as usual we have had a strong show with 31 volunteers."
Special Olympics Special Smiles provides oral health screenings and educates the athletes about oral health care. Members help collect dental data to assist in treating patients with disabilities in the future.
Caroline Branchal, CDM student, said it was a great experience because of how appreciative the athletes were. "The Special Olympics was an amazing opportunity for MUSC students to give back to athletes from all over the state. To see them having so much fun and at the same time offering them care that they may not otherwise receive was an unforgettable experience."
Sean Britton, CDM student, said the group had a great time developing relationships with the athletes and discussing oral health. "Most of the athletes were excited to get mouth guards and goody bags, it was a great experience," he said.
The MUSC faculty and residents included Salinas, Ted McGill, DMD, Rick Albenesius, DMD, Harry Hutchins, DDS, Jensen Turner, and Jim Ward.
The dental student participants included Robert Pratt, Sean Britton, Kathryn McDaniel, Mary Hughes, Justin DeGarmo, Britney Bare, Carolina Branchal, Melody Dawson, Derek Hoffman, Caroline Jarrell, April Kemp, Anna Roberts, Rachel Rittenburg, Patricia Fast, Jennifer Jones, Evan Smith and Byron Guffee.
Dentist from the community that volunteered included Drs. Maria Cordova, Ed Chapman, and Kimberly Duffey.
For more information on Special Smiles go to http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/dentistry/community/special_olympics.htm.