Dental flight keeps Team BLAZE smiling

Airman 1st Class Emily Miller, 14th Medical Operations Squadron Dental Assistant, applies fluoride varnish to a patient’s teeth March 20 at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The dental flight takes care of general dentistry, oral surgery, preventative dentistry and several dental lab cases for active-duty personnel. (U.S. Air Force photos/Senior Airman Kaleb Snay)

Airman 1st Class Emily Miller, 14th Medical Operations Squadron Dental Assistant, applies fluoride varnish to a patient’s teeth March 20 at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The dental flight takes care of general dentistry, oral surgery, preventative dentistry and several dental lab cases for active-duty personnel. (U.S. Air Force photos/Senior Airman Kaleb Snay)

Capt. Christopher Loftin, 14th Medical Operations Squadron Dentist, assisted by Senior Airman Robert Woods III, 14th MDOS Dental Assistant, checks a patient’s teeth March 20 at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The dental flight serves active-duty personnel from both the base and local area. (U.S. Air Force photos/Senior Airman Kaleb Snay)

Capt. Christopher Loftin, 14th Medical Operations Squadron Dentist, assisted by Senior Airman Robert Woods III, 14th MDOS Dental Assistant, checks a patient’s teeth March 20 at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The dental flight serves active-duty personnel from both the base and local area. (U.S. Air Force photos/Senior Airman Kaleb Snay)

Staff Sgt. Maria Schinella, 14th Medical Operations Squadron Dental Technician, works on a patient’s dental mold March 20 at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Dental lab technicians work on some dental aids that measure less than one millimeter in thickness. They must be precise in their work because the smallest mistake could cause a patient discomfort or pain.  (U.S. Air Force photos/Senior Airman Kaleb Snay)

Staff Sgt. Maria Schinella, 14th Medical Operations Squadron Dental Technician, works on a patient’s dental mold March 20 at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Dental lab technicians work on some dental aids that measure less than one millimeter in thickness. They must be precise in their work because the smallest mistake could cause a patient discomfort or pain. (U.S. Air Force photos/Senior Airman Kaleb Snay)

Senior Airman Nathaniel Farinas, 14th Medical Operations Squadron dental instrument processing manager, checks dental instruments for rust and contaminants March 20 at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The instruments go through a three-step process to ensure they are completely sterilized.   (U.S. Air Force photos/Senior Airman Kaleb Snay)

Senior Airman Nathaniel Farinas, 14th Medical Operations Squadron dental instrument processing manager, checks dental instruments for rust and contaminants March 20 at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The instruments go through a three-step process to ensure they are completely sterilized. (U.S. Air Force photos/Senior Airman Kaleb Snay)

Tech. Sgt. William Lodge, 14th Medical Operations Squadron Dental Flight Chief, greets a patient and checks her in for an appointment March 20 at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. For more information on the dental flight and its services or to make an appointment, call 434-2250. (U.S. Air Force photos/Senior Airman Kaleb Snay)

Tech. Sgt. William Lodge, 14th Medical Operations Squadron Dental Flight Chief, greets a patient and checks her in for an appointment March 20 at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. For more information on the dental flight and its services or to make an appointment, call 434-2250. (U.S. Air Force photos/Senior Airman Kaleb Snay)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- In the midst of pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base, many Team BLAZE members may be working with smiling faces and healthy teeth throughout their day.

This may be the direct effect of a visit with the 14th Medical Operations Squadron Dental Flight.

With a mission of serving the dentistry needs of active-duty personnel both on base and in the local area, the dental flight has many varying responsibilities, according to Lt. Col. Marie-Antonette Brancato, 14th Medical Operations Group Dental Flight Commander.

"We do general dentistry, oral surgery, preventive dentistry and several dental lab cases," Brancato said.

They are also responsible for the dental health of deployable 14th Flying Training Wing Airmen.

"We classify our patients from Class 1 to 4, with Class 3 and 4 being non-deployable," the commander said. "It can be difficult sometimes to get treatment when you are in a deployed location."

Ensuring service members are deployable takes more than just "cleaning teeth." Many things go on behind the scenes that are not often noticed by dental patients, such as sterilization of instruments, fabricating crowns and sometimes something as simple as set-up and tear-down of a treatment room.

"A normal day for me is pretty much I come in, set up, see a patient, tear down, repeat," said Airman 1st Class Emily Miller, 14th Medical Operations Squadron Dental Assistant. "It's fairly simple but it can be a bit of a rush at times with more patients. We each will normally see about six to eight patients a day, which is why infection control is very important. The last thing we want to do is place a contaminated instrument inside a patient's mouth. We must also ensure we have the correct patient record for the room they are in."

Although the job has its differences, the flight operates in the same manner as an off-base establishment.

"We do the same things as a civilian office, unless it is beyond the scope of our care," Brancato said. "In that case we will send the active-duty personnel downtown to see a specialist. We have eight enlisted and three officers working here including myself and our dental lab technician who fabricates crowns, bridges and sports guards for patients."

Brancato said the dental flight has achieved many accomplishments, and she attributed them to the flight's camaraderie.

"I have a great flight here. Everyone works well together and I am very proud of them," she said. "Although we are a small clinic, for the past two years we have been number one in the Air Force for oral health because of the diligent work each Airman does here. Patient satisfaction is very important to us. We want our patients to feel comfortable and I believe our team does a great job with that."

According to Brancato, the dental flight will be moving to a new location in the 14th Medical Group Koritz Clinic this summer. Stay tuned to Silverwings to find out more.

For more information on the dental flight and its services or to make an appointment, call 434-2250.