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GKAS Super Bowl style

New Orleans dentists, dental students, NFL players reach out to local children

New Orleans—Local dentists, dental students and members of the New Orleans Saints kicked off National Children's Dental Health Month/Give Kids A Smile season Jan. 18 with a special event that emphasized a healthy lifestyle as well as a healthy mouth.


Football flosser: Cameron Jordan, defensive end for the New Orleans Saints, spends his day Jan. 18 helping teach children about floss as part of a Give Kids A Smile pre-Super Bowl event with volunteers from the New Orleans Dental Association and Louisiana State University dental school.
                                                     —Photo by Leslie Capo


Volunteers: Drs. Nicole Boxberger, Claudia Cavallino and Kellie Axelrad pause for a photo with New Orleans  Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan during the GKAS/NFL Play 60 event.
                                              —Photo by Andrew Remson
New Orleans Dental Association Children's Dental Health Month co-chairs Dr. Kellie Axelrad and Dr. Nicole Boxberger planned a Super Bowl-themed event since the city is host to the 47th National Football League championship game Feb. 3. About 65 fourth-year dental students, 40 dental hygiene students, 15 dental assistants, four pediatric dental residents, 10 dental hygienists and 20 dentists teamed up with the New Orleans Saints' defensive end Cameron Jordan and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks for an NFL Play 60 event.

NFL Play 60 is the NFL's campaign to encourage kids to be active for 60 minutes a day in order to help reverse the trend of childhood obesity.

"Since childhood obesity and dental caries share contributing risk factors, we thought it would be a great idea for NODA and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Dentistry to join with the NFL and NFL Play 60 to get the message out about how to have a healthy body, healthy teeth and a healthy lifestyle," said Dr. Boxberger. "The New Orleans Saints were very receptive to our idea."

Drs. Axelrad and Boxberger wanted to reach out to communities that were affected by Hurricane Isaac in August 2012.  LSU Department of Pediatric Dentistry's interim chair, Dr. Janice Townsend, helped them coordinate with schools in Plaquemines Parish and LaPlace, La., to extend invitations.


Healthy bodies: Kids at the Jan. 18 GKAS event learn pro football drills from NFL Play 60 coordinators.
                                                      —Photo by Leslie Capo
A total of 101 students, from second- through fifth-graders, rotated through three stations during the event.

Saints players Cameron Jordan and Akiem Hicks, assisted by mascots Gumbo and Sir Saint, led NFL Play 60 football drills to promote physical activity and fitness outside on the dental school's athletic fields.


Healthy teeth: New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (above) visits with a young patient during his GKAS dental screening and (below) discusses dental-healthy food choices.
                      —Photo by Dr. Kellie Axelrad

                                        —Photo by Leslie Capo
"These two gentleman stayed the entire morning visiting with the students, performing NFL drills alongside them, and discussing oral hygiene and diet choices," said Dr. Boxberger. "We can't thank them enough for the multitude of smiles on the students' faces that they helped provide."

Kids also received brushing and flossing lessons from the Tooth Fairy and visited stations staffed by LSU dental hygiene faculty and students, including a coloring booth to illustrate happy smiles; a station demonstrating how mouthguards protect teeth; and a station on how drinks like juices, soft drinks and sports drinks affect teeth. NODA members, LSUHSC dentists, dental students and dental residents screened and cleaned participating children's teeth, and the dental association provided a healthy lunch to wrap up the day.

Dr. Boxberger said the program identified 11 children who had urgent needs, 41 with dental caries and 38 who had no visible decay and shared the information with school nurses and parents of participants. Parents were also provided with a list of dentists in their area for follow-up care.