TeamSmile is a charitable advocacy group that partners oral health professionals (and students) with professional athletic organizations. The TeamSmile event here in Arizona featured dentists, dental specialists, dental students, hygienists, assistants, and volunteers from all over the Phoenix valley working alongside players from the Arizona Cardinals to bring oral health care to children free of charge.
We like these events as students because they give us an opportunity to put what we learn into practice. I spent the entire day loading PSP plates into a computer for radiographic interpretation by a volunteer dentist. Occasionally he would ask for my diagnosis, allowing me to test my knowledge and hone my skills.
Out of the classroom
It can be hard to endure hours of seemingly endless lectures for two years. At some point our heads are saturated with information that we are ready to apply in the clinic. The wonderful thing about events like TeamSmile is that we are able to put what we learn into practice before transitioning to the clinic. Working with kids is an added benefit.
I have written before about my experiences volunteering. The day is never wasted when you give freely to those in need because you are able.
My only wish at these events is that more people would take advantage of it. We treated less than 200 children in a span of 8 hours. Many of us had a lot of down time. I think we could probably have treated twice as many kids as showed up if they had been there. At a time when dental care is so expensive, I am surprised that we don’t see more patients at events like TeamSmile.
You see a lot of repeat offenders at these volunteer events. The same people show up to most or all of them, and I commend them for it. There is so much to be learned from volunteering, and you can touch so many lives in such a meaningful way. There are really no downsides unless you were hoping to catch up on sleep.