477th FG Resumes Dental Operations

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Kaitlyn Lawton
  • 477th Fighter Group

“One of the first things people notice about you is your smile,” said Maj. Ellen Donahue, a 477th Fighter Group dentist.

The 477th Aerospace Medicine Flight started seeing dental patients again Sept. 13, 2020, since the halt of appointments due to COVID-19 in March. Donahue explained, most of us like to eat and talk. Teeth are vital in both talking and eating.

 “Your body is interrelated. Oral conditions that go undetected or untreated can affect your overall health,” said Lt. Col. Bradford Allen, a 477th Fighter Group dentist. “Not only can it become extremely painful, but also potentially fatal if you have an infection that goes untreated or spreads to other parts of your body.”

Military members are required to undergo a dental examination annually. Reservists are due a military exam every third year; while, in the interim years must provide a DD 2813, Dental Examination Form, which is completed by a civilian dentist. Currently, there is a memorandum from Air Force Reserve Command to allow DD 2813 in place of military exams until October due to COVID-19.

“We recommend seeing your dental hygienist for a cleaning every six months, and at that appointment, you will typical get an examination,” said Allen. He also recommends Reservists getting Tricare dental insurance which allows patients to have one dental cleaning every six months, at no additional charge, in a civilian setting.

A DD 2813 is a form that helps determine a member’s dental readiness class. There are four readiness classes: Class I and Class II showing Airman are deployable, while Class III and Class IV not deployable. Before the September Unit Training Assembly (UTA) around 10 percent of 477th members were in dental class IV; meaning those members’ dental status was unknown.

Allen predicts the unit will be caught up within the next three months. He said, “The point of us being here is to keep mission readiness. We are really happy to get back to work so we can make sure that we’re fit to fight and get our members ready to deploy if they need to.”