Dental flight keeps Team BLAZE smiling
By Senior Airman Kaleb Snay, 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 27, 2015
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.