Fort Sill dentists fix, clean teeth in single visit
November 27, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla. (Nov. 27, 2013) -- An Armywide dental program that gives Soldiers an exam, cleaning and restorative care in one fell swoop benefits Soldiers and their units, dental clinics and the Army.
The "Go First Class" program has been in use at the Weeks Dental Clinic here since April. It's also used at the Cowan and Allen dental clinics.
"I think the 'Go First Class' is an extremely good initiative," said Sgt. José Rosa, Weeks Dental Clinic non-commissioned officer in charge. "It's a convenience for the Soldiers, and for the dental clinics it's easy to track patients."
"Go First Class" is designed to get Soldiers in Class 1 dental status, meaning they don't require any other dental treatment for one year.
For years, the rate of Soldiers being in Class 1 was about 20 percent. With the implementation of "Go First Class," that number has risen to 40 percent, according to Col. Thomas Tempel Jr., Army Dental Command commander in an Army.mil article.
On Oct. 1, all 131 dental treatment facilities Armywide were using the program.
Before "Go First Class," Soldiers, would make an appointment for an exam and cleaning, then have to make another appointment for any restorative work that was discovered during the exam, said Shelly Burk, Weeks Dental Clinic treatment coordinator.
Now that can all be done in one appointment that takes about two to two and one-half hours.
"They seem to enjoy only having come to see us one time," Burk said.
Some of the patients complain that they are in the chair for a long time, but they like the fact they are finished with dental appointments for one year, Rosa said.
Units like it because they don't have to worry about so many of their Soldiers missing field time because of appointments, he said.
Also under the old system, patients frequently did not make their follow-up appointments either because they forgot or were transferred, Burk said.
During a "Go First Class" visit, patients might also get a fluoride treatment and dental health information, Rosa said.
If an exam reveals more work beyond a filling is required, like a crown or evidence of gum disease, the Soldiers is given another appointment.
"The program really helps our mission to get the Soldiers to be deployable and ready," Burk said. "And, we're here to serve the Soldiers."