KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, April 21, 2011 -- It can sometimes be difficult for deployed Soldiers to access conventional dental treatment, but Army dentists at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, are testing a portable X-ray system which could change that.
"A lot of the dentists in [Afghanistan] are not working in a fixed facility, they don't have the luxury of mounting an X-ray system to the wall because they're in a tent," said Col. Chris Evanov, general dentist with the 257th Dental Company.
The Nomad Pro, an X-ray system which weighs five and a half pounds, captures digital X-ray images and doesn't require a darkroom. This allows dentists to operate in remote environments.
"I've been in the military for over 20 years and I was a little suspicious of the device, but it didn't take more than a day or two for me to realize that this was great," said Evanov.
During the testing phase, dentists are judging the Nomad Pro system on the quality of the image, the weight of the system and its durability.
"We're trying to do what we can to get the best product here," said Maj. Gina Adam, medical science and technology adviser for Field Assistance in Science and Technology. "We want to get the best medical material for the warfighter."
The ability to X-ray Soldiers' teeth is vital to providing dental treatment. With a digital image, dentists can almost instantly see the patient's teeth and can make a determination on what specific care the individual needs.
"The truth is there are a lot of things we can't see, and you can't treat what you can't see," said Evanov. "You can open up your mouth and you might have all 32 of your teeth, but all I can see are your crowns. We don't have that Superman vision."
Once all testing is complete on the Nomad X-ray system, the headquarters for Field Assistance in Science and Technology, will decide if the system has met the needs of the dentist and the Soldier.
"It's really exciting to think we're doing something that will help improved the health care of the Soldiers," said Adam.