Better, faster, safer smarter with the 86th Dental Squadron rapid response teams

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

When the 86th Airlift Wing commander, Brig. Gen. Richard Moore, stated his vision of working "better, faster, safer and smarter," the 86th Dental Squadron took that vision to heart. The squadron found a way to cut recovery time for traumatic tooth injury down by 75 percent with a unique joint approach employing dental rapid response teams.


Lt. Col. Oscar Suarez-Sanchez, 86th DS base dental laboratory flight commander, explained that if the bone that holds a tooth becomes injured, it has a time sensitive window before it collapses. If the bone collapses, it takes 24 to 26 months to repair. However, if treated in time, the bone can repair in six months. The rapid response teams combine specialized personnel from the 86th DS with the resources and personnel at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.


“The point of rapid response is to get specialists quickly to the point of care,” Suarez-Sanchez said.


Suarez-Sanchez began implementing the rapid response program soon after he arrived on Ramstein Air Base. He found that the key to better, faster, safer, and smarter care came from comparing dental trauma to an enemy downrange. When the U.S. military faces various threats, it combats them with teams from a variety of career fields, from Army infantry to Air Force cyber intelligence personnel. Suarez-Sanchez knew that if he was going to overcome traumatic injuries more effectively, he would have to bring together the people and resources around him.


“Our problem was speed and acquisitions,” Suarez-Sanchez said. “The Army at (Landstuhl Regional Medical Center) work much faster than us. They have the speed and acquisition resources. We in the Air Force have the personnel and the training.”


Thus, the joint-operation began. Suarez-Sanchez said that before the rapid response team, the 86th DS sent all dental trauma patients to LRMC to undergo the 24 to 26 month process. Now, as soon as they receive knowledge of dental trauma, a rapid response team activates. Two 86th DS specialists, a surgeon and a prosthodontist, go immediately to LRMC to join personnel there and treat the patient as quickly as possible. A dental lab team is also ready to respond quickly.


Suarez-Sanchez said that the 86th DS and Army at LRMC have good synergy. Since the program started in August 2016, rapid response teams have treated approximately two patients every month.


“Personnel and families can rest comfortably knowing that if they receive dental trauma there are teams here so that provide a much better chance of rapid treatment than in the civilian world,” Suarez-Sanchez said. “One of the beauties of the military is that we have everyone we need together here.”


Suarez Sanchez said that seeing the teams working effectively is awesome. He said the program has taken massive amounts of coordination and long hours from personnel who believe in its value.


“Teamwork is the key part,” Suarez-Sanchez said. “The team spirit here is unique. The program has gone beyond all my expectations.”


Currently the dental rapid response teams can treat tooth trauma, but Suarez-Sanchez said that the 86th DS is working on rapid response for facial reconstruction. They have already performed reconstruction and are investigating what it would take to do the same procedure on short notice.


Suarez-Sanchez said that the reason he and the others work so hard to improve their system is because they want to keep people safe.


“It could be you, it could be your wife,” Suarez-Sanchez said. “It could be my wife, it could be my daughter.”


Because of the hard work like Airmen like Suarez-Sanchez and the team at the 86th DS, the Air Force is a better, faster, safer and smarter place for everyone.