86th DS contributes to a healthy force

by Senior Airman Katherine Holt
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

They are located in a massive, two-story building equipped with 52 patient treatment rooms and a fish tank in the reception area.

They are staffed with 138 personnel spread over seven sections and are responsible for more than 20,000 active duty Airmen and family members.
They are the men and women of the 86th Dental Squadron on Ramstein.
“We are the second highest producing dental squadron in the Air Force,” said Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Schmidt, 86th Dental Squadron superintendent. “Last fiscal year, our patient care equated to $14.8 million in treatment.”

Being a large shop has many perks, one of them being the unparalleled knowledge gained by working there, said Tech. Sgt. Nailah Dillard, lead treatment coordinator.
“Airmen, NCOs and officers working in the dental clinic get experience they may not receive at smaller clinics,” Dillard said. “This prepares dental personnel for most things they will encounter during their careers.”

Seeing thousands of patients isn’t the only factor giving members of the dental clinic the upper hand in experience. Dentists and technicians also have the opportunity to assist in the recovery process for service members wounded downrange.

“When we get the chance to help our brothers and sisters in service following injuries to the mouth and face, we feel like we are directly contributing to the fight,” said Staff Sgt. Jennifer Hurley, treatment coordinator. And when they are not taking care of immediate dental issues, personnel are working to prevent future difficulties.

“Prevention is key to maintaining a ready force,” Dillard said. “The fact that members are required to see us annually gives us the opportunity to diagnose and treat conditions that could become problematic if left undetected.”

Every active-duty Airman has to be dental ready before deploying to the area of responsibility. The members of the 86th DS are so efficient, Airmen are getting less and less dental treatment downrange.

“Less than 5 percent of Airmen are seeking dental treatment downrange,” Schmidt said. “We are essential to the mission,” Dillard added.  “If members experience any form of dental discomfort, they won’t be as effective.  We try to ensure our patients are on their A-game.”

Master Sgt. Shanette Jean, NCOIC of the Dental Support Flight, summed it up in one simple sentence: “We contribute to the ongoing success of Team Ramstein by ensuring a healthy force.”