Dental team keeps soldiers smiling in the field

1-2 SBCT, 7th Infantry Division
Story by Staff Sgt. Christopher McCullough

Date: 11.06.2013
Posted: 11.07.2013 14:56
News ID: 116462
Dental team keeps soldiers smiling in the field

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. <br /> <br /> 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. <br /> <br /> 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. <br /> <br /> "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."<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> Near the end of Correa and Pritchett’s training, a soldier came into the clinic with pain radiating from a wisdom tooth. <br /> <br /> “We extracted it,” said Pfc. Krystal Pritchett. “Instead of him having to take a trip back to JBLM, we just did it.” <br /> <br /> Correa and Pritchett, both of whom are with 296th Brigade Support Battalion, didn’t limit their field care to emergencies. <br /> <br /> "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."<br /> <br /> 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.