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Oral health training offered, tailored for parents with children with special needs  

Indianapolis, Indiana —Children always find a reason to smile.

And keeping that smile healthy is important for any child’s overall health.

However, children with special needs and disabilities have the highest rate of tooth decay. And poor oral health care can contribute to serious illnesses like infections and pneumonia.

To help families and parents understand the importance of oral health in helping children with a disability reach their full potential, McMillen Health has created an innovative training program called “Healthy Baby Teeth for Children with Special Needs.”

Through a $40,000 grant from the Delta Dental Foundation, McMillen Health’s Brush program developed new educational resources and training to increase the oral health of our most vulnerable children.

“Often oral health issues for children with special needs can require special arrangements and unique care,” said Teri Battaglieri, Director of the Delta Dental Foundation. “It’s our hope this guide helps parents and guardians understand the important role oral health care plays in their child’s overall health.” 

The 37-page interactive guide is designed to be used by early interventionists, home visitors and others who work with parents of children with special needs from prenatal through childhood.

Pages correspond to the age of the child, a specific stage, or a specific disability, including cleft lip or palate, cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome and G-tube and tracheostomy. 

“As we were talking to parents in the development phase of this project we found there was so much confusion about how to care for their child’s mouth. Parents were often surprised to learn that even if their children were tube fed and didn’t take food by mouth, that it was still important to brush their teeth,” said Dr. Holli Seabury, the CEO of McMillen Health. “We are happy to be able to partner with the Delta Dental Foundation to train early interventionists and to give them the resources they need to help parents ensure their children with special needs have the best oral health possible.”    

The program will launch on Aug. 11 in Fort Wayne and then throughout the pilot year, McMillen will work with Great Start Collaborative Wayne County in Detroit to provide the training.

They plan to train 250 professionals who work with more than 5,000 children and 7,500 parents.


About Delta Dental Foundation
The Delta Dental Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization established in 1980, which serves as the philanthropic arm of Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and North Carolina. The Foundation is dedicated to improving the oral health of the public and to advancing dental science through education and research. For more information, visit

About McMillen Health                                                                                                                                      
Since 1981, the non-profit McMillen Health’s mission has been to provide vital, effective preventive health education that promotes physical, emotional, and social well-being.  McMillen Health collaborates with organizations to develop curriculum, training, and media projects.  For more information visit or call 260-456-4511.