The New Orleans Saints and P
TeamSmile is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate youth about the importance of oral health and the consequences of poor dental hygiene. TeamSmile has created partnerships with professional athletic organizations, local dentists, dental organizations, dental schools and area volunteers.
Kevin Thomas, Board Chair for TeamSmile, noted the many negative stereotypes of bad dentistry and wanted to help change that perception.
“Usually when you are seeing a dentist, it is because of something painful,” said Thomas. “To associate health and dentistry with mascots, world-class athletes, and fun is helpful. We want to provide real life education (about) the integration of oral health and full body health. The team shares that vision.”
This event began with Dr. Bill Bush and one of his patients, P Dustin Colquitt of the Kansas City Chiefs. Colquitt comes from a family of NFL punters including his brother and his father. His mother, however, is a dental hygienist. According to Morstead, the Saints became involved in the event in the New Orleans area through the “Punters Union.”
This is the third year that TeamSmile has partnered with the Saints. The first event was held at the Saints practice facility in Metairie, La. and was moved to the NFL Youth Education Town Center in New Orleans last year.
Dr. John Celino was joined by over 100 volunteers and 22 dentists to treat every student in the group in less than six hours. Members of the Saints’ Youth Programs department were joined by Saints mascots and the Saintsations to help provide treatment to children in a fun and non-threatening way.
Between check-ups and instructional lessons, students were able to participate in elements of the Saints’ Jr. Training Camp Experience including an inflatable course, the Quarterback Challenge. Morstead also signed autographs and took photos with the black-and-gold fans in attendance. For those not interested in the football aspect, students were able to enjoy music from a live DJ or have their faces painted.
“Some of these children have never had their teeth worked on ever and it is a big deal,” said Morstead. “This is really nice to be able to do this for kids. It was awesome.”