JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska, –
U.S. Air Force Col. Kirsten Aguilar, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and 673d Air Base Wing commander, participated in a 673d Dental Squadron immersion at JBER, Alaska, March 2, 2021, focused on getting to know Airmen assigned to the 673d Dental Squadron and how they support mission readiness.
The 673d Dental Squadron provides high-quality care to JBER’s warfighters, and has maintained over 96 percent dental readiness for the 673d ABW despite the pandemic.
One major aspect of the dental clinic’s responsibilities lies in the variety of services they offer, including dental readiness exams, deployment and overseas screenings, preventive and general dentistry, oral surgery, endodontics, dental radiology and lab support.
“There’s no telework or telehealth in dentistry,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Nader Chebaro, the superintendent for the 673d Dental Squadron. “Unlike most units on base and in the hospital, 100 percent of our incredible dental medics come to work every day.”
Chebaro addressed the impact the squadron has on mission readiness by focusing on active-duty personnel.
“The 673d Dental Squadron provides care to the assigned active-duty Air Force and other eligible active-duty mission partners, sister services and foreign military members,” Chebaro said.
Many of the squadron’s current challenges are a result of COVID-19.
“We are currently facing a lot of new challenges right now due to COVID-19 and the fact that we work in the mouth,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Celeina Hoffman, the dental instrument processing center noncommissioned officer in charge. “Since we are at a much higher risk, we were able to start utilizing air scrubbers during some dental procedures, which helps remove viruses and bacteria from the dental treatment room and lessen the chance of exposure.”
During Aguilar’s visit, the Airmen highlighted the importance of dental hygiene and routine dental care, along with maintaining a safe environment for both patients and providers.
A lesser-known part of the squadron is their Forensic Dental Team.
“The team is activated if there is an unidentified body and the only means of identification is through their dental record,” Hoffman said.
Along with the Dental Cleaning section, Aguilar also toured the Dental Instrument Processing Center, the Endodontic Treatment Room, Records and Reception, and the Dental Lab.
“One of my favorite things about my squadron is that it feels small,” Hoffman said. “We’re really able to form relationships with our coworkers, so it seems like we’re more of an extended family. It was really awesome to have our wing commander do an immersion with us because it shows that she’s interested in our day-to-day operations and how we go about things.”
Immersions allow commanders to understand the mission and capabilities of the squadrons within their command, and to meet the Airmen who enable that mission.