Special Care Advocates In Dentistry
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About SAID: Special Care Advocates In Dentistry

Our Mission

SAID is a benevolent group of dental professionals whose mission is to improve the oral health of people with disabilities through service, education, and advocacy.

Our History

SAID is an organization that was begun by Dr. Gerald Bensberg, who at that time was the Director of the Attendant Training Project (a five year NIMH supported project sponsored by the Southern Region Education Board).

Dr. Bensberg invited dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and other interested professionals who served in facilities for the mentally retarded throughout fifteen (15) southern states to participate in a seminar to consider ways of delivering better dental care to the institutionalized mentally retarded population.

This seminar was held in April 1966 in Houston, Texas and was entitled "Meeting the Needs of the Mentally Retarded". The original seminar was attended by twenty three (23) institutional dentists, one (1) dental hygienist, two (2) nurses, and a pediatrician. These attendees represented twenty six (26) institutions in thirteen (13) southern states. The seminar proved extremely beneficial to the attendees and the group decided to meet yearly calling themselves The Southern Association of Institutional Dentists (SAID).

Since 1966, SAID has grown in scope and membership, and today boasts an active membership of over 300 persons representing twenty nine (29) states, including California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Canada. Over sixty three (63) institutions and three (3) dental schools, who provide services to institutionalized and community based clients, are represented by this organization.

The scope of SAID has changed to include not only the developmentally disabled client, but also the mentally ill client. SAID is the only organization in the United States that deals primarily with the dental needs of the institutional client. Its membership is comprised of dental professionals working full-time in institutions or professionals who devote a large portion of their time and practices treating the developmentally disabled, mentally ill and/or otherwise medically compromised client.

Members of this organization represent institutional dentistry on local, state, and national committees that write legislation which regulates the practice of dentistry at all levels, including the US Surgeon General's Conference on Health Disparities and Mental Retardation.

While SAID maintains its southern heritage, its spirit has been enriched by members from all regions of the country, as well as Canada. Recently, the SAID name was officially changed to “Special Care Advocates in Dentistry” because the original “Southern Association of Institutional Dentists” no longer reflected the diverse makeup and broadened focus of the organization. What has not changed is the original vision of improving the oral health of people with special needs. We hope you will join us to share your knowledge and to meet others who share your dedication and focus.


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