Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson, partners provide free dental clinic at stadium

CHARLOTTE — Carolina Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson teamed up with a handful of partners to host a free dental clinic at Bank of America Stadium.

Approximately 300 Charlotte-area students attended the event and were previously identified from Title I schools.

“I was like these kids,” Thompson said. “I didn’t see a dentist until I got to college. It’s just something that means a lot to me because I’ve been through it.”

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Among the students in attendance, 11-year-old Hayden Meeks described her experience after her first trip to the Panthers stadium.

“I was nervous at first but then after I got checked in and stuff, I found there was no reason to be worried,” Meeks said.

Thompson’s partners, including Team Smile, the Carolina Panthers and Dentsply Sirona helped transform the stadium into a dental office for the day.  Services included X-rays, cleanings, fillings and extractions, with some physicians temporarily shutting down their practice to offer their help.

“One filling could be up to a couple of hundred dollars,” said Allison Zora, a senior marketing officer with Dentsply Sirona. “Extractions, anesthesia, sometimes you have to come back, so it is not inexpensive.”

Thompson shared the story of one student’s experience, who was likely spared future complications because of his attendance.

“They just saved a kid from having trauma with his teeth by taking two teeth out,” he explained.  “He’s in pain but now he doesn’t have to go to the hospital later on. I understand these kids’ issues and it’s just something I want to help change.”

Thompson’s partners, including Team Smile, will help with additional follow-up care for some of the students who attended.

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