Better oral health among U.S. soldiers
SUMMARY: The dental health of American soldiers has improved by twofold in last several years. Read what's to thank for the advances.
Posted: November 27, 2013
The smiles of American soldiers are now healthier and brighter than ever.
According to report published by the Army New Service, the dental care of our troops has improved dramatically in the last couple of years. Soldiers have been showing fewer cavities, instances of gum disease and other oral health problems.
For the last several decades, only one in five soldiers were categorized as "class 1 dental wellness," which means that they were up-to-date on check-ups and needed no further dental work. That figure has doubled to 40 percent.
What's to thank for the oral health boost? A program called "Go First Class." This program was developed by Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army's surgeon general, and Maj. Gen. M. Ted Wong, chief, U.S. Army Dental Corps in conjunction with the Army Dental Command.
Previously, soldiers would go in for a routine exam, and afterwards, they'd set up another appointment for a cleaning or other work, such as a cavity treatment and gum disease check-ups. This system often prompted several follow-up appointments, long lines and lengthy stays in the waiting rooms.
"We were not taking care of our soldiers," Col. Thomas R. Tempel, Jr. explained in an Army News Service press release. "We came up with a proactive approach, whereby soldiers who come in for an exam also get a cleaning and often get a cavity filled all in one visit."
Though it seems like a fairly simple fix, the program took around one year to implement. On Oct. 1, all 131 facilities across the Army were using "Go First Class."
What's more, the program actually saves time - about 1.25 million hours per year - which equates to $31 million in E-4 pay and benefits, Tempel told the source.
That leaves everyone - from dentists to officers to troops - with a smile on their face.