Chiefs, dentists team up for healthy smiles

Sure, there were some tears and apprehensive young faces.

But on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium it was all about the smiles.

Dozens of area children and their families were treated to a day of free dental care, education and fun, courtesy of the Chiefs and dozens of volunteers from TeamSmile.

“I think it’s cool,” said 9-year-old Antonio Williams of Kansas City, flashing a winning smile. “They filled in my teeth and it tickled.”

Now in its sixth year, the partnership between TeamSmile and the Chiefs provided families who could not otherwise afford it.

Kellie Reneau of TeamSmile said they expected anywhere from 200 to 250 kids ages four to 15 to take part in Saturday’s event. On average, each child was expected to receive more than $1,000 worth of free dental care.

That included digital X-rays, fillings and preventative care.

A big part of the program was teaching children and their parents about proper oral care.

A graphic, hands-on demonstration of how tooth decay works was provided by Caitlin Kelly and other pre-dental students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The volunteers then demonstrated the proper ways to brush and floss and pointers on eating healthy.

“It’s fun for us and we feel like we’re able to teach the kids something,” Kelly said.

North Kansas City dentist Bill Busch was one of the originators of the program, which partners dental professionals with professional sports teams.

“The best part of the program is being able to reach these kids early on,” Busch said.

And the partnership with sports teams imbues the event with excitement that you wouldn’t get in an office setting.

The sense of excitement was evident Saturday when a large contingent of Chiefs players dropped in to meet the kids and sign autographs.

Punter Dustin Colquitt has been the Chiefs point man with TeamSmile. His interest in the program was sparked in part because his mother works as a dental assistant, Colquitt said.

“I’m a big advocate of helping children,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to impact youngsters in a positive way at an early age.”

And he even got his mom to travel from her home in Tennessee to help out Saturday. Anne Colquitt was among the dozens of volunteers who made the effort possible. Despite her dental background, they put her to work at the face-painting station.

“It’s just amazing to see the magnitude of this and how many people are being helped,” she said.

In keeping with the theme, the dentists, hygienists and dental assistants who volunteered their time Saturday wore red surgical scrubs complete with Chiefs logos.

Leawood dentist Stephen Huber said it’s a positive experience for him, and hopefully for the kids as well.

“It’s good to know that they are walking away healthier than when they came in,” he said.