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NEWS | March 15, 2017

Digging down to the root

By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Army Soldiers should not need to worry about dental issues while serving on the frontline overseas, or while accomplishing their mission at home station. Thanks to the dentists and technicians at U.S. Army Dental Command’s Tignor Dental Clinic, Soldiers can focus more on the mission and less on dental concerns.

Dentistry, the branch of medicine concerning with teeth and the associated structures of the oral cavity, also includes prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease and the restoration of defective or missing teeth. Dental studies show the impact it has on the human body, and is widely considered necessary for complete overall health.

In order to maintain their overall health, active duty U.S. Army Soldiers and Advanced Individual Training students assigned to Joint Base Langley-Eustis must attend appointments scheduled for preventive and restorative treatments such as cleanings, annual exams, fillings and root canals at the U.S. Army Dental Command’s Tignor Dental Clinic.

According to U.S. Army Sgt. Nicole Lewis, U.S. Army Dental Health Activity dental laboratory NCO, the clinic's primary mission is to ensure Soldiers are dentally qualified for worldwide duty, and the dentists and technicians aim to promote dental health and good oral hygiene to the greatest extent possible.

“Oftentimes oral issues can affect a Soldier’s overall health and ability to perform their duties, so we’re here to keep Soldiers healthy and ready for deployments and their everyday duties,” said Lewis. “It’s even better if we can make them happy with the way their teeth look, because their confidence can affect how successful they are at completing their mission.”

The clinic features a laboratory where crowns, veneers and dentures are produced on-site, saving time and resources compared to former procedures that required sending molds to another location to fabricate teeth.

“In the past, performing a root canal would take four, separately scheduled, appointments and several weeks from initial consultation to completion,” said U.S. Army Maj. Bryan Horspool, U.S. Army Dental Command endodontist. “With the newer capabilities we have in our own lab, we can take the molds and scans, cut out the mold and give the person a new crown in just one appointment.”

The facility also includes a three-room sterilization process for all tools used by the technicians and dentists, meeting all standards set forth by the Center for Disease Control Division of Oral Health.

The Dental Command personnel also deploy world-wide with Army units, providing the same quality dental care to military members in expeditionary environments.

“Deploying with a unit allows us to maintain an understanding of the cases within the brigade that we would treat at our garrison station,” said Horspool. “If we can provide care in both routine and emergency situations downrange, it saves time and money instead of having to send the Soldiers to other countries with capabilities to provide medical treatment.”

With approximately 5,000 active duty service members and 2,000 Advanced Individual Training students assigned to the installation throughout the year, U.S. Army Dental Command Tignor Dental Clinic personnel see patients daily to ensure members are fit to fight, armed with charming smiles.

For more info or to make an appointment contact Tignor Dental Clinic at 757-314-8016.