The Columbus Blue Jackets have, over their years of playing hockey, led to a lot of lost teeth in the Nationwide Arena. This past Friday, however, teeth were being taken care of in the arena thanks to TeamSmile, which was visiting for the second consecutive year.
TeamSmile is a traveling dentist’s office. A non-profit organization based out of Kansas City, Missouri, TeamSmile came to Columbus in order to provide complimentary dental care to about 250 children who were members of the city’s Boys and Girls Clubs.
TeamSmile has been providing dental care to kids for the past nine years, and they’re moving forward with the goal of making kids comfortable with receiving quality dental care.
“We partner with local sports teams to turn what might have been a bad experience into a very positive one,” explains the organization’s executive director, Kellie Reneau. The group expects to partner with about 22 sports organizations this year. Dr. Brian Kvitko had heard about TeamSmile at a dental conference, and his interest helped bring the Missouri-based group to central Ohio. According to Kvitko, the organization was founded in part in memory of Deamonte Driver — a young boy who died after an untreated oral abscess led to a deadly brain infection.
Dr. Kvitko, who works with the organization, worked with a girl this past Friday who had untreated abscesses, herself. With the help of TeamSmile, she received treatment and is now well. Along with dental care, the arena also featured music, entertainment, and the Jackets’ mascot, Stinger, which helped to make the event enjoyable for everyone who attended.
Will organizations like TeamSmile be enough to fill the dental gap that exists in the U.S.? Every year, approximately 17 million low-income children in the U.S. received no dental care. At the same time, demand for cosmetic dentistry has gone up 300% worldwide. While TeamSmile, and groups like it, won’t be able to help everyone, they do assist in making dental care a little more accessible to some of those who need it.
Overall, the TeamSmile group says that Friday’s event was a big success for the local area.
“We had kids that at first didn’t want to go and were scared to death and, afterwards, said it wasn’t really that bad,” says Reneau.