RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
The average human has 32 teeth. Multiply that by the number of U.S. service members on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, along with Ramstein’s geographically separated units, that’s more than 320,000 teeth that the 86th Dental Squadron Airmen are responsible for.
With the large population, the 86th DS is constantly working to keep service members healthy and maintain military standards.
Poor dental health can increase the risk for serious conditions, potentially affecting a person’s ability to deploy, travel, or conduct their day-to-day job.
“Military members who are flagged as a dental Class 3 means they are unqualified for worldwide travel,” said Senior Airman Bailey Soeder, 86th DS dental assistant. “Our goal is to keep that classification as low as possible and get patients in and taken care of to make them qualified again.”
To help keep Ramstein mission-ready the clinic can see two to three thousand patients and complete 8,000 -10,000 procedures, on average, in one month.
“During these appointments we conduct health screenings, take x-rays and, of course, clean teeth,” said Soeder. “The screenings allow us to catch and prevent any acute and painful dental problems that would require immediate treatment.”
Schroder stressed that regular at-home dental care and check-ups are essential for optimal oral health.
“Diagnosing and treating dental conditions that cause pain is also essential to allowing our troops to focus on their jobs and family life,” said Maj. Bryan Caine, 86th DS general dentist. “It is critical that our service members receive regular dental care.”
The clinic is made up of dentists, dental specialists, dental hygienists, dental technicians, and dental lab techs, which are all a huge part of the team that provides Ramstein’s service members quality dental care.
“It is entirely a team approach at the dental clinic and this broad range of specialties allows us to offer a full-scope of emergency and routine services to members,” Caine said. “These services are similar to a civilian dental practice, with the exception of elective procedures.”
While the 86th DS primarily supports the active duty population, they also have two pediatric dentists who provide dental care to dependent children up to seven years old, said Caine. "As a military dentist, I am very fortunate to be able to focus entirely on providing dental services that are in the best interest of my patients."
The 86th DS works hard to ensure the KMC and Team Ramstein maintain optimal oral health, keeping the mission as the global gateway functioning to the fullest.
“Oral hygiene affects your whole body,” said Soeder. “Meeting the Airmen that make up this base and being able to make a difference in someone's oral hygiene is what I enjoy most about my position. We all work together to put the bite in the fight.”