It goes without saying that the pandemic wreaked havoc on the dental industry. Dentists had to shutter their offices or limit the amount of treatment they provided to “emergencies only.” They were worried about the health and safety of their patients and staff, and not to mention, their futures. There was also a secondary longer-term victim—Dental Charities. Many were forced to pause activities — often for a year or more — or, worse yet, close their doors forever. TeamSmile, which provides dental care to children in need, together with professional sports teams and athletes, was one of those casualties.
“It was heartbreaking for me,” says TeamSmile founding dentist Bill Busch. “It’s one thing to not have the freedom to treat your own patients. It’s a secondary blow to have to pause efforts to treat children who simply can’t afford dental care.”
TeamSmile is the nation’s premiere advocacy group that partners oral health professionals with professional athletic organizations and athletes to provide life-changing dental care to the underserved children in their communities. By partnering with professional sports organizations, children receive free oral health education, screening, and treatment in a fun environment, surrounded by encouraging pro athletes.
TeamSmile had to pause its efforts from March 2020 until August 2021.
Now the group is back at it with programs with the Washington Football Club, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and its close-to-headquarters Kansas City Chiefs for an “Oral Health Care Day.”
Chiefs Cornerback Charvarius Ward says giving back to something like this is more than heartwarming. “I think it’s a great event. Some of these kids may have never been to the dentist before and others may be behind, due to the pandemic. Being able to come in and get the care they need can be a real confidence boost and translate to every part of their life. They’re smiling and dancing, but they’re also learning how important oral health is.”
Meanwhile, Busch says they will continue their tour this year with the Tampa Bay Rays, New Orleans Saints, and Pittsburgh Steelers while also simultaneously fundraising. “The expenses we incur are great. We travel with a semi-trucks filled with dental chairs and equipment from city to city—enough to treat around 200 kids each day. If it weren’t for the help of our volunteer dentists and hygienists and players, we wouldn’t be back on the road. For some of these children, this is their first experience in the dental chair. For others, it’s their first new toothbrush in years. That is something that can’t be paused.”
For more information about TeamSmile, including tour stop dates and opportunities to volunteer, visit teamsmile.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Blish Mize Connor is a brand writer and communications consultant based in Kansas City. She knows the Journalism Profession from all sides, having worked as an on-air reporter in Topeka, Kan., to producing Runway Shows in NYC for the press. She’s written for CEOs, spent too many hours at agency jobs, worked with Oprah and her dogs, launched new brands, and been published in Forbes.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Charvarius Ward, Chris Lammons, Cornell Powell by Maddie Washburn.