Annual dental conference grows, saves money

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
An annual dental conference Feb. 19 and 20 at the Museum of Aviation drew a crowd of more than 300 professionals from across the military, private practitioners, dental hygienists and local students. 

"This conference initially started out as a way for civilian and military doctors here to receive continuing education," said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Stephen Chartier, 78th Dental Squadron commander, who spoke on the "Reality of Erosion, Abrasion, Attrition and Abfraction. "Last year we decided to make this larger, invite more military members, and invite the best speakers we could and bring them here. We are very fortunate." 

Dental professionals need a certain number of continuing education hours in order to keep their licenses and these yearly conferences help meet those needs, said Chartier. For Air Force dentists a total of 90 credit hours must be met every three years.

The conference has grown each year, with several Air Force and Army bases sending representatives.

Guest speakers were Capt. (Dr.) Jeff Nordin, director of the James Lovell Federal Health Care Center, who provided newest trends in operative dentistry; Col. (Dr.) Tommy Fisher, who spoke on oral medicine; Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Toni Bowden, local anesthetics; Dr. David Reznik from the Centers for Disease Control and Grady Hospital spoke on ebola and AIDS; along with Drs. Don Spiller, Mike Loden and Lt Col. (Dr.) JoAnna McPherson. 

Currently in the 78th Dental Squadron there are five general dentists, and also the commander who sees patients throughout the week.

Chartier estimated that by hosting a dental conference here, the savings this year could come close to $1 million when factoring in savings on continuing education hours, temporary duty costs and the caliber of speakers who attended this year's event. 

"We're looking to save as much money by doing what we can here locally, and we do that by training our folks and keeping as much within the clinic," he said.

Some other potential savings he noted include expenses saved from having to send active duty personnel for care off site. The estimated cost from fiscal 2013 to 2014 was $219,000.   

Another example, in fiscal 2014 the 78th DS saw 123 patients in its orofacial pain clinic. 

Take in the cost of an average splint (an occlusal appliance patients wear to protect and re-establish jaw muscle and joint function) at about $2,500, follow-up appointments, TDY costs to see specialists off site, and estimated calculations add up to a savings of more than $424,000, said Chartier.