[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]

June 24, 2011


Dental personnel ensure troops ready for missions

Story & photo by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

Soldiers who want to be prepared for deployment need to ensure they have taken care of all of their pre-deployment needs, including having their dental readiness up to date.
PHOTO: Soldiers do a filling during Operation Ready Warrior. Photo by Rob Schuette
Spc. Tylethia Houston, (left) dental specialist, 350th Detachment, Charleston, S.C., and Maj. Djuana Beruk, dentist, 380th Dental Company, Memphis, Tenn., do a filling during Operation Ready Warrior, which provided dental services to Army Reserve Soldiers involved in Operations Diamond Saber, Essayons and Red Dragon at Fort McCoy.

Operation Ready Warrior (ORW) was held at Fort McCoy June 4-18 to help support those dental needs. Lt. Col. Marcia Lewis, commander of the 810th Medical Company (Dental Support), said Army Reserve Dental personnel conducted dental screenings to help Army Reserve Soldiers participating in Operations Red Dragon (Homeland Defense), Essayons (engineer, troop projects) and Diamond Saber (finance) take care of any dental issues that could affect their deployment status.

Dental facilities were established at Contingency Operating Location Freedom and at two cantonment area locations to serve the troops, Lewis said.

Sgt. Maj. Ernest Sanders, chief medical noncommissioned officer for Dental Support in the 3rd Medical Command Deployment Support (3D MDSC), said ORW ran from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily Some of the services provided were general examinations, panorex or bite wing X-rays and teeth cleaning, treating impacted teeth and/or providing fillings.

The 3D MDSC, which is located at Fort Gillem, Ga., is the parent unit of all deployable medical units east of the Mississippi except those in the Great Lakes region. The 810th is one of the companies in one of the 3D MDSC’s five Medical Brigades. Sanders participated in ORW to demonstrate the importance the Army Reserve puts on Dental Readiness.

“This was to provide the services at a time most convenient to the Soldiers,” Sanders said. “The purpose of the work is to keep the Soldiers in service.”

1st Sgt. Debbie Williams of the 810th said ORW is a follow-up to last year’s Ready Response Reserve Unit (R3U) dental program held during the Combat Support Training Exercise from July-August 2010.

“We are continuing the same standards and quality of care conducted last year on the R3U missions,” Williams said. “The 810th is dedicated to ensuring the Soldier’s dental needs are addressed and met. The mission is only successful when this occurs.”

Lewis said Soldiers’ dental needs are ranked in four categories, with the lowest classes of I or II meaning their teeth are relatively healthy and they would be considered deployment ready.

The next two classes of III or IV can render Soldiers nondeployable. Class IV identifies those who haven’t had a dental examination in a year or more, while class III identifies those who have had an exam, but need additional care.

“Dental hygiene comes in secondary in the field when Soldiers are worried about their survival,” Lewis said. “Each Soldier who comes through ORW is given an oral hygiene instructor care packet to help them practice good dental care.”

Many Soldiers don’t realize dental readiness starts by establishing good dental habits, such as regular brushing and flossing, Lewis said. Sanders added putting off fixing dental concerns often can make them worse and prevent Soldiers from fulfilling their duties.

“We want to keep Soldiers on duty and in the fight,” Sanders said. “This also gives the dental people the experience they need. The dentists do this every day at work, and although many of the dental specialists don’t they are very efficient at what they do.”

Sanders and Lewis said ORW coordinated with the Dental Activity and Troop Medical Clinic personnel at Fort McCoy to help ensure all Soldiers received proper dental care.

The records are digitized, which means they can be uploaded to an Armywide system and dental personnel can have access to them throughout the Army wherever the Soldier is serving, Sanders said.

[ Top of Page ]

[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]