Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Dental literacy brings smiles at Naval Hospital Bremerton

Image of Two military health personnel wearing masks. Servicing smiles with smiles…Capt. Mary Elizabeth Neill, board certified staff periodontist assigned to Branch Health Clinic Bangor, leans on assistant Ms. Naomi Padilla, dental technician, as they team up to improve every patient’s oral health care with timely treatment and shared knowledge centered on empowering all their patients to make healthy choices to increase their overall well-being (Official Navy photo by Douglas H Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton public affairs).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

"If you’re not true to your teeth, your teeth will be false to you."  That old dental proverb is nothing to smirk about.

With October designated as Health Literacy Month for the Military Health System, the Navy Dental Corps at Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) in Washington reminds every one of the need to know as much as possible about their own oral health care.

For Navy Capt. Mary Elizabeth Neill, board certified staff periodontist assigned to Branch Health Clinic Bangor, sharing knowledge is centered on empowering patients to make healthy choices to increase their overall well-being. 

“Knowledge is power,” Neill said, noting that public health statistics in her specialty area of periodontics are staggering. “Most dental disease is preventable. Untreated dental disease can be physically debilitating and emotionally scarring.

Half of American adults – those 64.7 million 30 years and older – suffer from gum disease, with 47 % having periodontitis, which can result in tooth loss.

”We as a nation have a chronic dental disease crisis, which may be influencing other major inflammatory diseases,” Neill noted. “Health literacy is a powerful tool. I truly believe in the power of information, but that information must resonate with the patient and compel action.  I spend a good portion of my dental evaluations in conversation with my patients so I can understand what is important to them and where they are in terms of self-care. Healthy habits focusing on prevention directly contributes to the fitness and readiness of our force.”

By educating patients, Neill added, they in turn become empowered using strategies which they can implement and control. “We essentially become partners in a therapeutic approach to their disease and the goal of gaining stability and maintaining health.”

Typical teachable moments during an examination might focus on the connection between diet/nutrition and dental health; the role of tobacco and nicotine products; stress; suboptimal oral hygiene (no flossing), and other factors that contribute to more aggressive dental disease. Neill pointed out that they can also include the connection between bacteria and inflammation in the mouth as risk factors, in heart/pulmonary disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

According to preventive dentistry expert Navy Lt. Cmdr. Justin Watson sharing such insights with patients helps reinforce the importance of reducing oral disease risks. “Preventative insights on patients’ oral health are often tailored specifically for that patient based upon the finding of the yearly exam,” Watson said.

“For example, if the patient is at high risk for cavities due to a sugary diet and poor brushing technique, the dentist will typically share the disease process that led to the new cavities found at the dental exam. Then a preventive treatment plan is presented to the patient which typically involves oral hygiene instructions and nutritional counseling.”

In Neill’s clinical practice a method called Motivational Interviewing is used to reach patients on the topic of prevention. 

“The goal is to increase motivation to improve patient’s oral hygiene behaviors as well as providing a framework for delivering diet, tobacco cessation, stress reduction, and alcohol advice,” she noted. “This tool is very collaborative and patient-centered which builds on trust and establishes a strong patient-dental professional relationship.”

Dental health and wellness is not just centered on the prevention of cavities and explaining the need to brush and floss regularly. The Navy’s dental readiness classifications are an integral gauge of every command’s operational readiness.

The validated and reliable classification system used by Navy dentistry is basically set up to screen large populations and predict dental emergencies that might occur in the next 12 months.

“We focus on treating these patients and mitigating risk to mission,” Neill said. “This is extremely important to us as an expeditionary force where there may not be any dental assets forward. Navy dentists have always been keenly focused on operational readiness.”

Neill, Watson, and the rest of the dental team at NHB and Branch Health Clinics Bangor and Everett also in Washington ensure ongoing support for the Navy surgeon general priority of producing force medical readiness and medical force readiness, one smile at a time.

You also may be interested in...

The Chief of the Army Dental Corps Talks Dental Health & Readiness

Article
2/22/2022
The Army’s top dentist talks about what service members should keep in mind about their dental health.

Here’s what the Army’s top dentist thinks service members should keep in mind about their dental health.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness | TRICARE Dental Care

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 02 - February 2022

Report
2/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Diagnosis of hepatitis C infection and cascade of care in the active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; A new approach to categorization of ocular injury among U.S. Armed Forces; Surveillance snapshot: Health care burden attributable to osteoarthritis and spondylosis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Campaign Plan Targets Medical Readiness, Better Health

Article
1/26/2022
(From left) Army Lt. Col. Shimul Patel, chief, Plastic Surgery Services, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jessica Peck, chief, Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, LRMC, operate on a cancer patient during the first microvascular reconstruction and anastomosis procedure ever performed at LRMC, Dec. 3, 2021.

DHA’s five-year plan focused on improving global health care delivery, military readiness.

Recommended Content:

Ready Reliable Care | Health Readiness

The British 'Limeys' Were Right: A Short History of Scurvy

Article
1/10/2022
Scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C, sickened sailors who had no access to fresh food supplies, and killed more than 2 million sailors between the 16th and 18th centuries alone.

How citrus fruits quelled the scourge of scurvy.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Nutritional Fitness | Military Medical History

MSMR Vol. 29 No. 01 - January 2022

Report
1/1/2022

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Description of a COVID-19 Beta variant outbreak, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, February–March 2021; COVID-19 and depressive symptoms among active component U.S. service members, January 2019–July 2021; Surveillance snapshot: Lengths of hospital stays for service members diagnosed with sepsis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2011–2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Hearing Problems Decline

Photo
12/14/2021
Hearing Problems Decline

Hearing loss in the Department of Defense continues to decrease for service members and civilians enrolled in hearing conservation programs.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Conditions and Treatments

Meet the First Coast Guard Sponsored USU Medical Student

Article
12/9/2021
US Coast Guard Ensign Bobczynski smiles at camera

U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduate Ensign Elyse Bobczynski is the first USCG-sponsored student to attend medical school at the Uniformed Services University.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 012 - December 2021

Report
12/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Osteoarthritis and spondylosis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020; Incident COVID-19 infections, active and reserve components, 1 January 2020–31 August 2021; Surveillance snapshot: Donovanosis among active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2011–2020

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Wounded Warriors and Caregivers Online Resources

Article
11/29/2021
Airmen race for a loose ball during an Air Force Wounded Warrior basketball game

The Defense Department programs listed here are staffed with nearly 800 recovery care coordinators and case managers who are standing by to respond to individual queries.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Warrior Care

Mental Stress is like a ‘Check Engine Light’ Flashing–Don’t Ignore It

Article
11/29/2021
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason David talks about his  journey of recovery through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program during a video conversation with Defense Health Agency Command Sgt. Major Michael Gragg.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason David speaks about his own journey of recovery through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Warrior Care | Warrior Care – A Virtual Show of Strength | Psychological Fitness

Army Recovery Care Coordinator Guides Veterans, Caregivers in Recovery

Article
11/12/2021
Recovery Care Coordinator

A warrior care coordinator shares how she supports recovering service members, their families and caregivers.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | IHD COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Center for Health Care Personnel | Immunization Healthcare

MHS Reaches 6 Million Doses of Vaccine Against COVID

Article
11/10/2021
Airmen of the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, receive COVID-19 immunizations as a part of the federal mandate at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Missouri, Oct. 2, 2021. The 139th Medical Group oversees the operation. .

Military passes 6 million mark for COVID-19 shots administered across the Military Health System.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

Giving Back Helps Veteran Caregiver Connect with Military Caregivers

Article
11/10/2021
Veteran caregiver, Diane Hupko with U.S. Army veteran she cares for smile at camera

Giving back helps veteran caregiver connect with other military caregivers to build a community of support.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 11 - November 2021

Report
11/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Cold weather injuries, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2016–June 2021; Brief report: The challenge of interpreting recurrent SARS-CoV-2 positive tests among military service members, Fort Jackson, SC, 2020–2021; Surveillance snapshot: History of COVID-19 vaccination among Air Force recruits arriving at basic training, 2 March–15 June 2021; Surveillance snapshot: Influenza immunization among U.S. Armed Forces health care workers, August 2016–April 2021

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Are You Prepared for Flu Season? Let TRICARE Help.

Article
11/1/2021
A hospital corpsman administers an influenza vaccination to an airman as part of a seasonal shot exercise onboard Naval Air Station Sigonella.

Flu season is here once again. Are you prepared? With the COVID-19 Delta variant​ continuing to spread and our health care system overburdened, it’s important for all of us to help combat the spread of flu. And the best way to do so is to get a flu shot.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 31 - 45 Page 3 of 38
Refine your search
Last Updated: July 09, 2021

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.