Health & Safety

September 6, 2012

Dental is dentalacious: Sailors aid thousands each year in Yuma

Story and photo by Cpl. Sean Dennison
Desert Warrior Staff
Lt. Cmdr. Jason Brezovic, the 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Dental Battalion, 13th Dental Company detachment officer in charge, performs a routine dental checkup on Lance Cpl. Samuel Lima, a Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron air traffic controller, at the dental clinic aboard the air station, Aug. 31.

Give or take a few, an adult human being has 32 teeth.

A dental company detachment here at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma is in charge of providing care for approximately 144,000 teeth.

1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Dental Battalion, 13th Dental Company detachment is comprised of both sailors and civilians trained in the science of dentistry.

“Dental is another aspect of medical readiness,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Williams, a company dental technician and a native of Cynthiana, Kenn. “Exam wise, we see about 200 Marines each month.”

Coupled with other appointments for oral issues, the dental clinic sees nearly 1,000 people each month.

Aside from the air station, the station’s dental company is responsible for service members in the region, including the US Army’s Yuma Proving Ground, Yuma branch recruiters. Even US Navy SEALs are known to get their pearly whites viewed at MCAS Yuma.

“We get sick call patients in the morning and we see them right away,” said Chief Petty Officer Glenn Pangco, the company’s senior enlisted leader and a native of San Diego.

Dental checkups are important for service members, both in terms of health and military procedures.

“We make sure all units are up to date as far as dental readiness goes,” said Pangco. “We have to have all personnel good to go so they’re ready for deployment.”

A class IV dental status presents problems for the service member on-the-go, as they are essentially grounded from deploying.

The dental technicians hit all the usual stops like checking for cavities or any gum diseases. One of the bigger culprits throughout the base is a build up of calculus, or hardened dental plaque.

Thankfully, there are few major oral issues.

“Usually dental pain is quite severe compared to other injuries,” said Williams, adding with a smile, “you’ll definitely know when something’s up.”

Most Marines scoff when they need to get their routine dental checkup, and there are definitely lies going around about how much one flosses, but the dental technicians understand the role they play leads to a healthier Corps.

“I love being a dental technician,” said Pangco. “If I can’t help you get ready for deployment, there’s no point of me being here. To help someone with that, to me, is rewarding.”

To schedule a dental appointment, contact the clinic at (928) 269-2927.

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