Lifelong Smiles for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities: A Resource for Oral Health Professionals


  • CDHA member fee FREE
  • CDHA student member fee FREE
  • Non-member fee FREE

Course Completion Time:

Approx. 3.5hrs

Note that your access to this course will expire one year from the date of registration; course registration fees are non-refundable and subject to applicable taxes.

Course Description

Individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) often experience challenges with daily oral hygiene, have more untreated dental caries, and have a higher prevalence of gingivitis and other periodontal diseases than the general population, all of which can affect their oral function, overall health, quality of life, and longevity. These individuals commonly face significant access-to-care barriers and challenges in receiving dental care.

The Lifelong Smiles for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities online course is designed to help you, the oral health professional, more effectively connect with and support clients with ID in maintaining good oral health over their lifetime. The four-module course, developed by dental hygienists, is made possible through a partnership with Special Olympics BC and the Golisano Foundation’s Healthy Communities program.

The four modules are:
  • Facts about individuals with intellectual disabilities
  • Preparing the dental office to welcome clients with intellectual disabilities
  • Desensitizing strategies for a successful dental appointment for individuals with an intellectual disability
  • Strategies to support your client’s daily oral care
Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:
  • Define and describe intellectual disability, its prevalence and etiology, associated health disparities, and access-to-care barriers experienced by this population
  • Identify current supportive legislation and programs
  • Recognize the importance of advocating for individuals with ID
  • Discuss a step-by-step approach to prepare the oral health team, client, family members/caregivers, and clinic environment to successfully welcome clients with ID
  • Identify effective behaviour modification theories, strategies, and tips that can help shape desired behaviour and increase success during dental visits
  • Employ an upstream client- and caregiver-centred approach to support effective daily oral hygiene for clients with ID

More Course Information