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J Dent Child (Chic). 2007 May-Aug;74(2):130-2.

Puerto Rican athletes with special health care needs: an evaluation of oral health status.

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  • 1Deanship of Research, University of Puerto Rico School of Dentistry, Puerto Rico.



Limited data are available regarding the oral health of individuals with disabilities who reside in Puerto Rico. The Special Olympics Special Smiles oral health screening, education, and referral program provides an opportunity to explore the dental status and needs of Special Olympics athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The purpose of this paper was to evaluate the oral health status of Special Olympics athletes participating in an event in Villalba, Puerto Rico in 2004.


A total of 161 self-selected athletes with intellectual disabilities were screened by 4 trained and calibrated dentists utilizing the criteria standards of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, Special Olympics Special Smiles, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed for decayed, filled, and missing teeth. Oral hygiene, reports of oral pain, and sociodemographic information were recorded. The statistical test used was the chi-square test to establish associations and logistic regressions. Data were analyzed using EPI-INFO and SPSS programs.


Almost 45% of examined athletes (mean age=19 years) had untreated dental decay; 33% had missing teeth, 60% had gingival signs of periodontal disease, and 16% reported dental pain.


Results of clinical examinations indicate a population with intellectual disabilities that is in significant need of preventive and restorative oral health needs.

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