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Dental Flight ‘Puts the bite in the fight’

Capt. Travis Wagner, 14th Medical Operations Squadron general dentist, and Shaneka Hubbard, 14th MDOS dental assistant, operate on a patient Nov. 7, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The Columbus AFB dental clinic works to keep the dental health of every patient in the best condition possible and is highly keen on aiding Airmen in the best preventative oral habits. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Hannah Bean)

Capt. Travis Wagner, 14th Medical Operations Squadron general dentist, and Shaneka Hubbard, 14th MDOS dental assistant, operate on a patient Nov. 7, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The Columbus AFB dental clinic works to keep the dental health of every patient in the best condition possible and is highly keen on aiding Airmen in the best preventative oral habits. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Hannah Bean)

Staff Sgt. Maria Schinella, 14th Medical Operations Squadron dental laboratory technician, works on a patient’s mouth mold Nov. 7, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The molds are used to fit a variety of prostheses including dentures, posts and implants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Hannah Bean)

Staff Sgt. Maria Schinella, 14th Medical Operations Squadron dental laboratory technician, works on a patient’s mouth mold Nov. 7, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The molds are used to fit a variety of prostheses including dentures, posts and implants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Hannah Bean)

Capt. Travis Wagner, 14th Medical Operations Squadron general dentist, operates on a patient Nov. 7, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The dental flight focuses mainly on good oral habits to aide patients in keeping their mouth clean and healthy enough that it won’t cause issues in the long run. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Hannah Bean)

Capt. Travis Wagner, 14th Medical Operations Squadron general dentist, operates on a patient Nov. 7, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The dental flight focuses mainly on good oral habits to aide patients in keeping their mouth clean and healthy enough that it won’t cause issues in the long run. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Hannah Bean)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 14th Medical Operations Squadron Dental Flight is essential for Airmen and pilots to be in good health.

Poor dental health may prevent Airmen from completing their job, so the dental flight works consistently to complete x-rays and perform dental check-ups or cleanings with new and high quality tools to ensure all Airmen are in top condition.

“We want to make sure that people are healthy enough to do their job,” said Staff Sgt. Maria Schinella, 14th MDOS dental lab technician. “We know that people are nervous about going to the dentist, however we don’t want anybody to be in pain and prevent any issues patients may have from getting worse.”

Dental care is very important at Columbus AFB, with dentists, dental assistants, and laboratory technicians contributing in a variety of different ways.
“We make sure that patients are dentally ready when it comes to them deploying or just being ready for the mission,” said Master Sgt. Arkelia Hamlet, 14th MDOS Dental Flight chief. “We are ensuring that they have all of their dental treatment taken care of, as well as, ensuring the student fliers are in-processed and don’t need any dental treatment until at least the next annual exam. That way, you don’t have any interruptions in your training.”

The dental flight focuses mainly on preventative actions to aid patients in executing proper dental hygiene so they won’t have issues in the long run. This reduces Airmen’s visits to the dentist and allows them to stay healthier longer.

“I don’t think anyone can do their job if they are in tooth pain,” Hamlet said. “No pilot going up in the air, especially at different altitudes, with a tooth ache is going to be able to properly and safely operate their aircraft, thus impacting their job.”

Hamlet said tooth pain is different from a bodily injury such as breaking a bone. Pain from a break is isolated to one part of the body, whereas tooth pain is something that once it is hurting, it is not only hurting the mouth, but the surrounding body parts because its proximity to the brain.

Though the main focus of a dental clinic is to provide healthy oral hygiene habits to patients, the clinic also provide custom dental prostheses, using a variety of dental materials such as acrylic, gypsum and gold to make precision pieces, such as mouth guards, crowns, and fillings for their patients that will protect their teeth for years to come.

“We understand that we have a pilot training goal here at Columbus AFB, so we want to interrupt that goal as little as we possibly can,” Schinella said. “As many dental folks like to say ‘We put the Bite in the Fight.’”

The Columbus Air Force Base dental clinic is highly keen on aiding Airmen in the best oral habits. Dentists provide essential dental and oral care with thorough examination, diagnosis and treatment of problems - an essential need to the well-being and healthcare of Airmen all over the world.
Hamlet finds that enlightening Airmen about proper dental hygiene and showing them something they may have never knew beforehand is highly rewarding. She wants Airmen to understand the major impact practicing reliable oral hygiene and the lasting effects it can have in their lifetime.

“We want people to know to floss their teeth that they want to keep,” Hamlet said. “Help us help you by taking care of your teeth and taking dental care seriously. We’re here to help people.”