Nobody wants a toothache. Imagine having a painful cavity during combat.
Soldiers from the 44th Medical Brigade’s 257th Dental Company trained April 18-19 to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Dentists from the 257th examined patients April 18 in a tent set up near Simmons Army Airfield. The unit’s dental hygienists cleaned Soldiers’ teeth nearby.
Other Soldiers from the unit examined patients at Fort Bragg’s Smoke Bomb Hill.
Col. Stacy Larsen, commander of the 257th and a dentist, said the exercise was good training for the unit. She said it helped the Soldiers prepare for deployments.
Pvt. Josette Bennett, who is in the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command’s 25th Quartermaster Company, said she wasn’t sure what to expect from a dental examination in a tent, but was impressed.
“It was professional,” she said.
Larsen asked Bennett questions about her teeth during the examination. Spc. Natalia Matias, a dental specialist, was Larsen’s assistant.
Larsen looked at Bennett’s X-rays on a laptop computer. Matias handed Larsen two plastic dental instruments, which Larsen used to examine Bennett’s teeth. Larsen occasionally spoke to Matias, prompting her to make notations on a chart.
Bennett was glad that she didn’t have any major problems.
“I just need to have my teeth cleaned,” she said. “I thought she was going to say a bunch of terrible stuff.”
Bennett said she was glad to know that a unit like the 257th would be available during a deployment.
“If something happened and I knocked out my tooth, that would be nice,” she said, pointing at the tent where the dentists were working.
Capt. Gary Blyleven, a dentist who works in a clinic at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, examined Sgt. William Amis, a command driver in the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command. Blyleven said the exercise was running smoothly.
“Getting used to having the bare minimum and making it work,” he said.
Amis said his examination was similar to what he’d get in a dental clinic.
“It was really quick and simple,” he said. “It’s amazing how we can make sure that no matter where we go, we’re medically ready.”
First Lt. Nick Jones, the 257th’s executive officer, said the exercise helps the unit’s Soldiers work on their skills while making sure other Soldiers are prepared to deploy.
“The name of the game is readiness,” he said.
Jones said the unit set up eight tents and got the dental equipment ready on April 16. The Soldiers worked on “Army warrior skills” the next day, he said.
Staff Sgt. Francisco Roman was making sure Soldiers who arrived at the exercise were ready for their exams.
“Basically, what we’re doing is an example of what we’re capable of doing if we have to deploy,” he said.
The exercise also helps make sure other Soldiers don’t have tooth pain if they have to deploy, Roman said.
“We want them fully capable of doing their job,” he said.