Robins Airmen receive 'dental stimulus'

  • Published
  • By 78th Dental Squadron
  • 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The 78th Dental Squadron recently distributed "dental stimulus packets" to a group of deploying Robins Airmen.

In addition to providing basic oral healthcare products to help prevent dental problems during deployment, the initiative was a way for the 78th DS to demonstrate its pride and support for Robins deployed Warriors.

"With the long shifts and stressful work environment associated with deployments, Airmen have many distractions that often time keep them from making optimal oral health choices," said Col. Ricky Cook, 78th DS commander.

These "stimulus packets" will contain toothbrush kits, associated oral health aids, and patient educational materials providing guidance and instructions on oral hygiene care and nutrition.

"By providing a dentally healthy, fit, and ready force, we improve the overall health status of our service members," Colonel Cook said.

Two areas of concern for deployed military members are caries, or tooth decay, and periodontal disease, or gum disease. The problems are caused by bacterial infiltration into the teeth or surrounding soft and hard tissues that support the teeth.

"This disease process can lead to cavities and other gum related problems if left untreated," Colonel Cook said.

The type and rate of damage associated with these bacteria, called dental plaque, is influenced by environmental, genetic and behavioral factors with poor diet and lack of proper oral hygiene generally playing the most significant roles.

"Eating balanced meals from the five food groups is the first key to good oral health," said Diane Betz, dental health coordinator for the squadron. "Food and drinks that contain starches or sugars significantly aid in the production of high levels of bacteria which in turn secrete acid which attacks and breaks down tooth enamel."

By choosing a balanced diet, brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, and using dental floss at least once a day the incidence of dental related problems can be significantly reduced, she said.

For those who eat or drink high starch or sugar items, Ms. Betz recommends limiting consumption to regular meals that are followed by proper toothbrushing rather than snacking throughout the day.

In the event that brushing after eating isn't possible, chewing gum with a non-nutritive sugar increases saliva, which helps in diluting acid concentration and re-mineralization of enamel.

The daily use of an antimicrobial mouth rinse can also aid in the reduction of dental plaque formation.

The packets will continue to be distributed at the line to Airmen who are deploying.