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More than 100 children receive free dental care at Pepsi Center

Of all the places to spend the first day of holiday break, a dentist’s chair was not on Manuel Alvarez’s list.

“Horrible,” said 9-year-old said after having a cavity filled.

But necessary.

Manuel and his older brother Isaiah were among more than 125 children ages 7-14 who received dental care during a TeamSmile event Saturday at Pepsi Center. The treatments, which ranged from cleanings to fillings to extractions, were valued at more than $250,000.

“It’s a great service for the community,” said Jeannette Alvarez. “It saved me quite a bit of money.”

TeamSmile is a national non-profit organization that partners with professional sports teams to provide dental service to underserved children in the community. In addition to treatment, children were taught how their teeth are linked to overall good health.

“TeamSmile is a valuable partnership to families in Denver,” said Deb Dowling, vice president of community relations for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. “Because of this program, many future health issues have hopefully been averted. Dental care is vital but, unfortunately, can be overlooked when finances are tight. The valuable expertise and knowledge of the dental care professionals is a wonderful gift."

Nuggets rookies Jordan Hamilton, Cory Higgins and Julyan Stone, along with centers Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufas, spent about a half-hour visiting with children in the make-shift dentist offices before practice.

“Most kids don’t like going to the dentist,” Hamilton said. “I know I didn’t. It was nice to make them feel good. We made them smile and helped them feel more comfortable.”

The TeamSmile event, which included 12 dental stations, eight hygiene stations and about 100 dental professionals and volunteers, was part of the NBA’s Season of Giving.

"TeamSmile’s partnership with Kroenke Sports was a huge success," TeamSmile program director Kellie Reneau said. "Together, we changed the children and their parent’s lives one smile at a time."