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Biffle Helps Kids Smile

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, April 19 2012

Greg Biffle talked teeth with kids this week. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Christa L Thomas)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Nine-year-old Abby Gail Baver suddenly appeared beside Greg Biffle, wanting to show him a photo of her Quarter Midget that was on the mobile phone she held in her hand.

Biffle briefly stopped talking with reporters and turned his attention to the Lake Norman Elementary School student. Once she had shown him the photo she rejoined her fellow students whom just minutes earlier had listened to Biffle tell them about good dental hygiene.

Standing on a small stage Tuesday, with his Texas Motor Speedway trophy on one side and a show car parked to the other, Biffle talked to the 300 to 400 children, asked them questions, and gave away T-shirts and small, toy cars. Biffle, who broke a 49-race winless streak Saturday at the 1.5-mile Texas track, was touting the American Dental Association’s Give Kids A Smile program for which he’s a spokesman. In his position, Biffle tells children about the importance of brushing, flossing, dental visits and making smart food choices. At Richmond International Raceway during the April 27-28 race weekend, the Virginia Dental Association, a program participant, will provide children free dental evaluations, fluoride treatments and dental sealants, if needed.

For the 42-year-old Biffle, who didn’t get braces until 2009, good oral care is important. In fact, he didn’t realize until he became involved in the program that more than 16 million children live with dental disease.

“Once you start learning and getting educated about it, you’re kind of amazed it’s gone so unnoticed,” said the father of one. “Kids’ dental health has gone under the radar.”

Biffle’s dental health care as a youngster didn’t go unnoticed. He simply refused to wear the braces he needed when he was a teenager.

“My brother and I both wrestled in high school and he wore braces,” Biffle explained. “When you’re wrestling, that’s not a good thing.”

However, he now admits he would have been happier wrestling than driving a race car with braces on his teeth.

“To have that helmet squeezed to your cheeks and then my mouth sore when I’m racing, it was a lot,” explained Biffle, whose teeth began moving “all over the place” after he had some impacted molars removed. “Obviously, it would have been much easier to do it any other time.”

By waiting, however, Biffle was treated with a better system, one developed by his NASCAR Sprint Cup sponsor – 3M.

“They invented a system where the wires snap in,” Biffle said. “(When you need an adjustment) they just change the wire out. It’s a much better system and allows the teeth to move from side to side, but it keeps them aligned. I have a permanent retainer, permanent wires (now) bonded to the back of my teeth.”

When Biffle finally decided to get braces, 3M put together a team of orthodontists in various sections of the country so Biffle could make his scheduled appointments while racing. His braces were put on in Texas. In addition to the Lone Star state, he visited orthodontists across the country, including Dover, Del., and Indianapolis.

“I couldn’t take any medication and that was tough,” Biffle commented. “I would always do it [get the adjustments] before the race because I didn’t want to stay over after the weekend and go. You’ve got time when you get there on Thursday, so I would always go Thursday. By Friday I was so-so and Saturday and Sunday I was hurting.”

Biffle’s braces were removed a year ago, but he notes most of the photographs he now autographs are from his “braces era.”

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, April 19 2012
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