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Feature Stories

NEWS | Sept. 15, 2020

Drilling with the Dentists

By Story by Sgt. Jermaine Jackson U.S. Army Central

Drills, saws, and grinders. The imagery of these tools may suggest that one would find themselves on a construction site or at a hardware store.

These tools are also staples in the medical community and have been a part of physicians toolbags for decades. However, as technology has improved so has the ability to treat service members throughout the force.

Soldiers from the 673rd Dental Company, based in Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, now equipped with a crown mill machine, are able to provide service members with complete crown services in a fraction of the time it used to take, thanks to new technology at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

"The good thing about this is that it's all digital," said Capt. Krey Keller, a dentist with the 673rd Dental Company. "We're able to take a tooth from preparation to the final crown within a couple of hours."

A procedure that once took upwards of six weeks has now been reduced to just about three hours. Technology, like the machine, allows service members from coalition forces to also receive care with a faster recovery period.

"We try to maximize what we can do with a patient while we have them here," said Keller. "I've been able to treat patients from all corners of the world. It's been really interesting."

Despite COVID-19 the 673rd is working to make sure everyone has proper dental care. Patients must receive a screening prior to procedures if there is a chance saliva will come into contact with staff or equipment. Proper protective equipment is a must and social distancing is enforced throughout the clinic.

"We're testing every patient before we do an aerosol producing procedure," said Keller. "Our job is to take a class-three, non-deployable soldier, and make them a class-one. It's also good for Soldier morale since they can get a crown and go about their day."