Students Get ‘Charged Up’ for Dental Care

This was not your typical visit to the dentist, what with San Diego Chargers players giving high fives to students receiving free dental care and Chargers cheerleaders providing extra encouragement with great smiles of their own. Throw in festive music, free t-shirts, and player autograph signings and the day could not have gone much better for more than 150 third and fourth grade students from Vista Square Elementary.

TeamSmile and the Chargers partnered to provide the students free oral health care and instruction at a dental clinic set up inside Qualcomm Stadium on Tuesday, October 14, 2014. Students learned about the importance of dental hygiene while interacting with Chargers players including linebacker Andrew Gachkar, safety Marcus Gilchrist, offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles, offensive lineman Craig Watts, and kicker Nick Novak, among others.

Students danced and sang with the Chargers girls as they waited for their turn in the dental chairs. Television news media helped make the students, parents and staff feel like celebrities.

“I never expected all this,” said parent volunteer Antonia May, in Spanish. “It’s a beautiful event, especially for the health of the students. Some children are scared to go to the dentist. This helps them overcome that fear. We as parents also learn how to better educate our children at home about (dental hygiene).”

That is exactly the point, said Dr. Bill Busch, co-founder of TeamSmile, a nonprofit advocacy group that partners oral health professionals with professional athletic organizations to provide dental care to underserved children.

“We’re giving free dental exams, X-rays and treatment to ensure the students have their smiles for a lifetime,” Busch said. “Not only will we do the exam, we will find the problem and fix the problem. Hopefully, with the help and enthusiasm the Chargers’ organization brings to the program, we are inspiring students and their families to take care of their smiles for life.”

School officials noted that is hard for a student to learn with a toothache or dental disease, a key contributor to student absences. Students with toothaches were almost four times as likely to have a lower grade-point-average than students with healthy teeth, according to a 2012 study by the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California. (EdSource, March 21, 2013)

TeamSmile organizers said they hope to make the partnership with the Chargers and Vista Square an annual event. View Chargers’ video of event by clicking here.

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