First-class service, first-class facility

The Army Dental Command’s new slogan, “You deserve to go first class,” has an added meaning for service members in the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart area. As of this month, they will now get first-class service — a dental exam, cleaning and initial treatment in a single visit — in a first-class facility.
After months of anticipation, the Stuttgart Dental Activity opened its doors to patients in its new home on Panzer Kaserne Sept. 17.
The newly renovated facility in Building 2996 provides patients with a bright, comfortable, spacious environment where they will receive the latest in comprehensive dental care.
“With this move we’ve almost doubled our space and have increased our personnel by 40 percent. We now have 11 dental providers, and a minimum of three dental hygienists,” said Col. Michael Craddock, the dental clinic commander.

Photo by Sgt. Dan Maffett Dental Assistant Weleska Garcia preps Maj. Gen. Charles Hooper, the director of AFRICOM’s J-5, Strategic Plans and Programs, before he sees a dentist Sept. 5. Hooper was one of the first patients treated at the new dental clinic on Panzer Kaserne as part of the transition to the new facility, during which the new equipment was tested.

Photo by Sgt. Dan Maffett
Dental Assistant Weleska Garcia preps Maj. Gen. Charles Hooper, the director of AFRICOM’s J-5, Strategic Plans and Programs, before he sees a dentist Sept. 5. Hooper was one of the first patients treated at the new dental clinic on Panzer Kaserne as part of the transition to the new facility, during which the new equipment was tested.

Along with practitioners of general dentistry, Craddock said the staff will include specialists in orthodontics, prosthodontics, endodontics, periodontics, pediatric dentistry and advanced general dentistry, adding that the clinic gained several specialists after the Heidelberg clinic closed this summer.
The new facility features twenty dental treatment areas, a prosthetics lab, X-ray room, instrument sterilization facilities and support offices.
The clinic is furnished with $3 million of new equipment, including 20 dental chairs, a cone-beam computed tomography system for 3D imagery, and a state-of-the-art dental lab, according to Craddock.
In addition, each treatment area is equipped with a digital X-ray machine and a 22-inch flat screen monitor for viewing X-rays and discussing treatment plans, giving patients a greater understanding of the status of their oral health.

“All this state-of-the-art equipment means we’ll be able to increase our efficiency and access to care for our patients, and convert the patients over to a state of wellness,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Cordova, the clinic renovation noncommissioned officer.
He explained some of the improvements. “In the old clinic, there was one X-ray room. You could have 20 people lined up, waiting to get X-rays. Here, the patient does not even need to leave the chair, and the dentist will get instant images.”

The clinic’s new digital scanners and computer-aided design and manufacturing equipment will eliminate the need for taking physical impressions, thereby speeding up the production of dental prostheses such as crowns and bridges. For less complicated cases, the patient will wait in the chair while the bridge or crown is being made … no more temporaries.
The digital scanners are also on the clinic’s medical network. “This means we can digitally send whatever we can’t make in-house directly to Fort Gordon, the area dental lab, and they will make it. This will shave off, at a minimum, two weeks in shipping alone,” Cordova said.

These improvements will go a long way in improving dental wellness for service members. Army-wide, more than 50 percent of Soldiers have cavities, according to Army Dental Command data, and 33 percent of Soldiers who were cavity free last year were diagnosed with cavities this year.

Since the inception of the Army-wide Go First Class program this summer, service members now receive a cleaning, annual dental exam and cavity treatment in one visit.
“We’re trying to get as much done on a patient to save time away from work,” Craddock said.

As a result, the clinic has seen an increase in service members’ wellness by 18 percent. “We’re at 50 percent, but our goal is in the 60s,” he added.
While the larger facility and staff means more patients can be seen, until the goal is reached, the clinic’s focus will be on service members.
“Our priority is the service member for their wellness. But if I have openings, I don’t care who it is, I want the chair occupied,” Craddock said.

The Stuttgart Dental Clinic is located in Building 2996, Panzer Kaserne. The clinic is open Monday through Friday from 7:3o-11:30 a.m. and 12:30-4:30 p.m. The clinic is closed on U.S. federal holidays.
Sick call is from 7:30-9 a.m., but appointments are preferred. To make an appointment, call 590-2800/civ. 06371-94642800.

Photo by S.J. Grady The new dental clinic on Panzer Kaserne features 20 treatment areas, each with a 22-inch monitor to enhance patient education and digital X-ray equipment.

Photo by S.J. Grady
The new dental clinic on Panzer Kaserne features 20 treatment areas, each with a 22-inch monitor to enhance patient education and digital X-ray equipment.