Athletes offered free dental care at Special Olympic Games

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A local dental clinic was at the Special Olympics Virginia Games Saturday to offer dental services to the athletes.

The Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic was making sure people’s smiles were at peak performance.

Lynne Taiclet, a Mission of Mercy dentist, said the group was at the event to offer free services.

“They’re able come in and get their teeth cleaned and fillings done, extractions completed if necessary,” Dr. Taiclet said.  “And all of this care is being offered for free.”

Volunteers for the Virginia Dental Association and VCU School of Dentistry were on hand to offer services which may otherwise be less available for patients with special needs.

“Many of the patients here today are very cooperative and they can receive care willingly, but they can’t find a dentist who will agree to treat them, or their insurance doesn’t cover their dental needs,” Dr. Taiclet explained.

In addition to dental screenings, physical therapy was also offered.

Laura Thoene, a physical therapist, said this was a chance to see the patients one on one.

“This population tends to be underserved within the community, so this is an opportunity to screen them individually and see if there’s any needs for them,” Thoene noted.

Each athlete could meet with a physical therapist like Thoene and Bryan Gilreath to receive education about their health.

“Once they run through these screenings, we can take national standards and compare them to that and then they can get education as they leave here for them and their coaches to work on, to help them remain healthy as they compete in the games,” Gilreath said.

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