FORT IRWIN, Calif. — This year, Fort Irwin gained a new pediatric dentist on post and she has hit the ground running.
“I realize that the community has been without a pediatric dentist for quite some time,” Lt. Col. Leslie Oakes said during a recent live, Garrison Facebook Round-up session. “There was about a 10-month gap from when the previous pediatric dentist departed and when I arrived. We have some catching up to do!”
Oakes passed along oral hygiene and dietary tips to the community, as well as spoke about access to care and updates to clinic renovations.
The opening of the newly-renovated Shuttleworth Dental Clinic is set for May.
Prior to the pandemic, there were two dental clinics on base. Shuttleworth Dental Clinic was the main dental clinic, and Dental Clinic #1 was the Pediatric Dental Clinic. Since the pandemic, the two clinics have been combined and are now temporarily housed in a transitional trailer while Shuttleworth Dental Clinic gets renovated.
The current ages of children that can be seen on-post are from birth to eight years of age, as well as any age child with special health care needs.
Once the dental needs of that population are met, the clinic will consider increasing the age limit. The current services being offered include infant exams, cleanings, x-rays, fluoride treatment, fillings, crowns, early orthodontic care, nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) and treatment under general anesthesia in the operating room.
Oakes offered this dental advice.
“Not enough people put focus on what their diet is like and how it affects their teeth,” she said. “What we’ve seen during the pandemic, especially with children in virtual school and adults teleworking, is that we are snacking a lot more and sipping on sugary drinks throughout the day.”
Besides brushing teeth twice a day, flossing and getting routine dental exams, Oakes added, “We really need to focus on eating healthy, drinking water throughout the day and trying to avoid some of those sugary drinks and snacks.”