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Fort Irwin & TDP collaborate to improve dental care for families

Image of a bus with the words "Military Dental Services" on the side The mobile dental unit tour bus specifically outfitted with x-ray capabilities and three operatory stations provided routine dental care to enhance Fort Irwin’s dental capabilities. (Photo courtesy of United Concordia Companies.)

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More than 200 U.S. Army families took advantage of a unique dental opportunity at Fort Irwin, California spanning the week of Nov. 15 through 20.

A mobile dental unit tour bus specifically outfitted with X-ray capabilities and three operatory stations provided routine dental care to enhance Fort Irwin’s dental capabilities.

In August 2020, the Army Brig. Gen. David Lesperance, Fort Irwin commanding general, met with Defense Health Agency (DHA) TRICARE Dental Program representatives (TDP) and DHA stakeholders to address dental care challenges affecting morale and additional costs to TDP patients. DHA TRICARE Dental Office collaborated with their TDP administrator to answer the need at Fort Irwin.

The need for family dentistry at Fort Irwin was the result of losing their network civilian dentist on base last spring, explained Army Maj. Anastasia Panos, a periodontist serving as the executive dental specialist point of contact with the Defense Health Agency.

Despite the global pandemic, the DHA Tricare Dental team worked with their local TRICARE partner and coordinate the visit. To ensure families aboard post were made aware of the visit in advance they sent out post-cards and emails to Fort Irwin TDP family members, and within two weeks the project was a ‘go.’

Working with their TRICARE partner and installation leadership, DHA’s Tricare Dental Section was able to execute the mission. Some of the dental services provided at these events included cleanings, scaling and root planning, fluoride, panoramic and bitewing radiographs, direct fillings, extractions and core build ups.

“We have done this also over the summer at the Coast Guard Station in Humboldt Bay, California,” explained Panos “TRICARE Dental is always trying to think out of the box and get more patient-focused when we can. After all there’s no place like home to empower patients with their own healthcare Dental prevention and maintenance needs.”

Sixteen dental staff members from the TRICARE administrator provided dental exams dentals, fluoride treatments and X-rays for the TDP-enrolled the Fort Irwin military family community, and will return in three weeks for follow-up care and regular schedule appointments, however that event is already completely booked.

This mobile unit began treating TCP members in 2017 at Fort Greely, Alaska and in Laramie and Guernsey, Wyoming. In the last 12 months the mobile dental unit has served approximately 600 military family members.

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