By Shannon Carabajal, Army MedicineFebruary 15, 2012
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Feb. 15, 2012) -- A new comprehensive website is helping Soldiers maintain their dental readiness.
The information site, the Dental Readiness Information Center, or DRIC, contains up-to-date information on dental readiness requirements, available resources for examinations and treatment, and procedures to update a Soldier or unit's dental readiness status. Soldiers can access the website from anywhere via smartphone or by any other internet connection device.
According to Col. Mark Bodenheim, a consultant with the U.S. Army Dental Command, known as DENCOM, the website is a great way for Soldiers to stay up to date on dental readiness requirements.
"Various dental readiness entitlements and programs have been initiated during the last ten years. These programs can be confusing to the individual Soldier and their command. The DRIC organizes the various programs into a logical sequence dependent upon the Soldier's active duty status and Army component," he said.
"The DRIC also tells Soldiers the current deployment dental readiness requirements; what program they are eligible to access; and upon accessing the program, how their dental readiness status will be updated in the Medical Protection System database," he added.
Created by the DENCOM, the website is available to any Soldier -- active, Reserve, or National Guard -- and supports the U.S. Army Medical Command's Soldier Medical Readiness Campaign Plan.
"With today's high tech Army, each Soldier is critical to mission success. Dental studies indicate that a Soldier who is not dental ready prior to deployment has a greater than 75 percent chance of a dental emergency within the next 12 months. A Soldier with a dental emergency can be a loss to their unit for days," Bodenheim said.
Additionally, deployed Soldiers with oral disease often require medical evacuation for treatment, endangering themselves and others.
Bodenheim said dental readiness is especially important for Army Reserve components (Army Reserve and Army National Guard), because Reserve components, or RC, Soldiers, as an operational force for the Army, must be able to deploy just as quickly as their active component counterparts. The Department of Defense goal is to have active and RC Soldiers maintain a 95 percent dental readiness status at all times. Currently, the Army's active component maintains a 92 percent readiness dental readiness status while the RC dental readiness has improved to 80 percent, a dramatic improvement from just five years ago.
"During the first Gulf War, between 35 and 45 percent of RC Soldiers mobilized needed some type of dental work before they could deploy. This trend continued during the initial mobilization of RC Soldiers for the Global War on Terrorism. The increased use of RC Soldiers for operational requirements necessitated a different approach to the issue. By late 2008, DENCOM, in conjunction with multiple stakeholders, led the development of a funded, year round, RC dental readiness program-the Army Selected Reserve Dental Readiness System," he said.
Bodenheim added that the DRIC is a great way for commanders in all components to enhance Soldier readiness and combat effectiveness.
"Officers within Army commands change constantly. The DRIC permits a new commander, as well as present commanders, to instantly access the most current information on dental readiness. Dental readiness is a commander's and individual Soldier's responsibility. The DRIC is another tool in the commander's tool box to assist in the decision making process of commanders," he said.
The DRIC is located at https://www.dencom.army.mil/dric/index.html or in AKO under the "Dental Readiness" drop down box found in the My Medical Readiness Status section under the Soldier's My Professional Data subject line.