Commentary

August 3, 2012

March’s Dental chief speaks out

by Lt. Col. Jesus A. Flores
452 AMDS Dental Services

As a dentist who has been at March Air Reserve Base for more than 18 years, I noticed that dental compliance has always been a difficult issue with many members on this base. Although it is mandatory by a DOD directive from AFRC, many squadrons continue to have a high non-compliance rate for their dental requirements.

As 452d AMSD, chief, Dental Services, my goal is to stress to all wing members the importance of full compliance with the DOD directive and their obligation to keep their dental health in acceptable condition so they stay worldwide qualified and deployable.

It is important to understand some history behind the annual dental exam in order to appreciate the critical importance of compliance.

When I became a dental officer in 1994, the dental exam requirement was every 3 years for flyers and every 5 years for non-flyers. The time came that this was no longer acceptable due to members failing to visit their civilian dentist on a regular basis. Caries and periodontal disease became rampant across the wing, increasing the number of members becoming non-worldwide qualified for deployment.

Soon after, it was decided to make annual dental exams mandatory. However, due to the large number of reservists, it was not (and is still not) possible to perform a military dental exam on all reservists every year. Thus, Department of Defense Form 2813 was introduced.

As it stands today, Air Force Instruction 47-101 states that all reserve members must have a military dental exam every third year and the two years in between, they will have their dental exam with a civilian dentist. The civilian dental exam is to be documented on a DD Form 2813 and submitted to the dental clinic for input into the computer system and dental record.

There are specific time periods for the due dates of the dental exams, based on the date of the previous dental exam. It is no longer based on a member’s birth date.

My goal is to increase the wing dental readiness statistics to above 95% every month. This is a lofty goal, but it can be done. It is my duty and responsibility to ensure that all wing members comply with their annual dental requirement. But I cannot do this without everyone’s cooperation.

Here’s the bottom line: In the military there is no room for procrastination, carelessness, or non-compliance. Your job as a reservist is to follow the directive and complete your annual dental requirement. I am asking all of you to do the right thing: stop procrastinating, have integrity and honor and do what is required. This will ensure an increase in dental readiness to the highest level possible and will help build a wing that is medically ready and deployable.

Anyone who has questions or concerns is urged to contact the dental clinic at (951) 655-2339 for clarification.

Master Sgt. Monica Hegardt and Master Sgt. Jannine Chavez contributed to this article.




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