YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. – For soldiers who needed emergency dental work while training at nearby Yakima Training Center, treatment often required traveling four hours to dental clinics on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Not only did this prevent soldiers from receiving the training they needed, but it also used up valuable time and resources.
Now, with advances in mobile dentistry, oral surgeons like Capt. Mauro Correa Jr., of Willows, Calif., the brigade oral surgeon for 3-2 SBCT, 7th Infantry Division, can perform many dental procedures without ever leaving the field.
Correa and his dental specialist, Pfc. Krystal Pritchett, from Wilson, N.C., spent most of October at YTC supporting 3-2 SBCT during a training rotation there.
"Emergency dental care out here in the field encompasses anything as complicated as the extraction of a (tooth) to your regular dental fillings," said Correa. "We try to focus on emergency dental care. That essentially means that any soldier who has severe pain or a loss of function, meaning they can't eat or communicate with others, which is essential in combat."
Correa's dental trailer at YTC was equipped with almost any tool he could need, enabling him to provide cleanings, fillings, root canals, and extractions amongst other procedures.
Near the end of Correa and Pritchett’s training, a soldier came into the clinic with pain radiating from a wisdom tooth.
“We extracted it,” said Pfc. Krystal Pritchett. “Instead of him having to take a trip back to JBLM, we just did it.”
Correa and Pritchett, both of whom are with 296th Brigade Support Battalion, didn’t limit their field care to emergencies.
"For preventive dental care, I would be able to (do) a dental cleaning," Correa said. "We also provide dental evaluations and we could even provide them fluoride therapy out here."
Although some dental procedures will still require soldiers to leave training and return to larger dental clinics, dental teams from 3-2 SBCT are helping keep their soldiers healthy and smiling in the field.