LSU Health New Orleans Newsroom

Leaving Them Smiling!

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Leslie Capo

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Going to the dentist was never so much fun! At least that’s what more than a hundred third-, fourth- and fifth-graders from Esperanza Charter School thought after their visit to the festively decorated LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry for Give Kids a Smile Day. The annual event provides dental services to underserved children, but at LSU Health New Orleans dental school, it provides so much more.

There were Minions and football and a magician, oh my! There were Trivia questions and coloring books and stuffed animals with teeth. There were balloon animals and headpieces and a dress-up photo booth. The Tooth Fairy, Tooth and Sparkle brought to life the importance of taking care of your teeth. And it was all to help kids keep their bodies healthy and their smiles bright.

Organized by a student committee chaired by third-year DDS student Courtney Brashier, Give Kids a Smile Day brought together pediatric dental and dental hygiene faculty, staff, residents and students with volunteers from the New Orleans Dental Association and the New Orleans Saints, who brought NFL Play 60 equipment.

The students were divided into groups that rotated between stations. While one group was running football drills conducted by Saints staff on the dental school’s intramural athletic field, another was learning about foods that make teeth happy, getting interactive brushing and flossing lessons, and putting on costumes and posing with their friends for photos that went home with them. Yet another group was treated to a magic show by Associate Professor of Prosthodontics--Dental Laboratory Technology David Vela, who also happens to be an accomplished magician. Students in the remaining group got a dental check-up and cleaning, along with sealants, where warranted. Each student left with a letter for his/her parents containing the results of their oral examinations, along with a goodie bag filled with toothbrushes and paste, floss and more.
Give Kids a Smile Day minions
The children worked up their appetites and enjoyed a healthy lunch before boarding the buses to go back to school.

The event, sponsored by LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry, New Orleans Dental Association, ADA Foundation, Campus Federal, Colgate, Henry Schein, Kavo-Kerr, RIMS and Emily Green Photography, was a tremendous success. It’s hard to say who had the better time – the youngsters who benefitted from much needed dental care having a blast all the while, or the dental and budding dental professionals who got to provide care to some of the children who needed it most.