Good People, Good Causes: Team Smile
Writer / Kathi Moore
Tooth decay affects US children more than any other chronic infectious disease, says the Centers for Disease Control. Untreated tooth decay with its pain and infections often leads to other problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.
That’s where Team Smile comes in. A national 501c3, the organization partners with professional sports teams about 23 times a year to treat children who might not otherwise make it into a dental practice.
Here in Indianapolis, Dr. Nicole Van Le of Village Dentistry (56th and Post Road) and Jennifer Platts of Team Smile and Village Dentistry are doing their second annual Team Smile & Pacers Charity Event on February 11 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers are the only NBA team that Team Smile partners with; other markets work mostly with baseball and hockey teams.
“This makes it an event that is bigger than dentistry,” pointed out Dr. Van Le. “No one likes the dentist so we want to make it more fun.”
They expect to treat 300 children with multiple stations of treatment, nutrition information, exercises and other fun events such as face painting, clowns, dj, balloon animals, etc. Boomer and the Pacers cheerleaders will also be present, as well as some athletes. Children receive free oral health education, screening, treatment, and are taught that the mouth and body are linked for overall health.
Last year this Team Smile team performed more than $115,000 worth of dental procedures. Many of the children treated were from Riverside School 44 and the Julian Center, but any K-6th grader can attend and be treated.
“Everyone should have a passion or mission that is larger than themselves, to give back,” said Dr. Van Le.
“These kids already have big enough challenges to face. We are happy to set them up for better success and give them confidence.”
The program relies on dozens of volunteers and the $18,000 cost of the event is funded with donations. There are also important sponsors such as Delta Dental, Franciscan Health, Simon Property Group, the Indiana Pacers, Papa John’s, Einstein Bagels, Homewood Suites and more.