Dental clinic ‘goes first class,’ streamlines appointments

The U.S. Army Dental Command will roll out the Go First Class program across the Army this month. Go First Class is designed to streamline a Soldier’s path toward overall dental wellness and readiness.

“The number one dental complaint Soldiers have with going to the dentist is they can’t get their teeth cleaned the same day as their exam,” said Col. Bryan Kalish, director of Healthcare Delivery for DENCOM. “Starting in July, Army dentistry will address this concern once and for all with Going First Class.”

When possible, Soldiers going through the GFC process will receive their cleaning, annual dental exam, and initiate or complete treatment of their dental cavities — all in a single visit.

S.J. Grady Dr. (Maj.) Jayanthi Kondamani (right) and Dental Specialist Pfc. Michael McKiver perform a dental restoration on a service member July 2 at the Stuttgart Dental Clinic.

S.J. Grady
Dr. (Maj.) Jayanthi Kondamani (right) and Dental Specialist Pfc. Michael McKiver perform a dental restoration on a service member July 2 at the Stuttgart Dental Clinic.

The intent of GFC is to help more Soldiers achieve the goal of Dental Readiness Classification 1. GFC will also renew focus on existing DRC 2 and 3 treatment needs.

According to data gathered by U.S. Army Dental Command over the past year, over 50 percent of Soldiers have cavities. In addition, 33 percent of Soldiers who were cavity free the prior year were diagnosed with cavities this year. Officials say prevention is the key to stop the cycle and that GFC will focus on prevention, as well as readiness and wellness.

The Stuttgart Dental Clinic will roll out the program for all service members.

In order to do so, clinic officials will discontinue walk-in exams. Appointments will be necessary, and exams for active duty service members will be combined with dental cleanings.

Active duty service members needing emergency care will be seen during sick call, triaged and assessed for their dental needs.

With the mandated changes, routine care for family members will be temporarily suspended.

“Unfortunately with readiness extremely low, coupled with our short staffing, we are unable to perform routine family member care,” said Sgt. 1st Class Sean Arnold, the dental clinic detachment sergeant.

Family members who are receiving treatment for orthodontics will continue to be seen, as well as those who need emergency care and service-mandatory permanent change of station exams.

Arnold said clinic officials are working diligently to reinstate routine care to family members on a space available basis, although the exact date for this has not yet been determined.

One thing families can count on, however, is an increase in dental care for children after a pediatric dentist arrives in September. Until then, families are encouraged to use the Tricare Dental Insurance Program.

“We encourage all family members to take advantage of the excellent benefits,” said Arnold.