New program ensures dental readiness

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Paul Zadach
  • 934 AW Public Affairs
AEF rotations, Fit to Fight, worldwide qualified; all are terms that have recently come to define today’s mobile combat-ready Air Force Reserve. An area of readiness that is being looked at more and more closely by AFRC leaders is dental readiness.

During the first Gulf war, it was discovered that a significant number of Reservists arrived at deployed locations in need of serious dental care. These conditions prevented the Reservists from performing their wartime missions and decreased the readiness levels of the deployed units. “Many people were aware that they had dental issues that needed attention before they deployed, but were under the mistaken assumption that there would be dental clinics and providers available to treat these conditions at their deployed locations,” said Lt. Col. Neil Anderson, 934 AW chief of dental services.

As a result of these findings, Air Force Reserve Command looked at ways to correct the problem without significantly increasing the workload of Reserve dentists and technicians. The program that has evolved requires reservists to receive a dental examination every year and goes in to effect Feb. 1. Every third year, the Reservist is seen by an Air Force Reserve dentist in conjunction with their long physical. In the two years in between, Reservists must have DOD form 2813, Active Duty/Reserve Forces Dental Examination, completed by their civilian dentist within a six month window prior to their birthday. Reservists will not be given dental exams by Reserve dentists during short physicals. The form must be turned in within the six month window to the Dental Clinic or can be faxed to 612-713-1149. The form provides an assessment of the Reservist’s dental health to the unit and is used to determine the Reservist’s status for worldwide deployments.

“It is highly recommended that reservists have the form completed as early as possible in the six month window,” said Colonel Anderson. “This way, if there are problems, there will be time to correct them and turn in a form that indicates the Reservist is in good dental health.” If a Reservist does not turn in the form by their birth date they will be placed on a profile placing them on a no-pay, no points status. If the form is turned in showing major problems causing the Reservist to lose world wide qualification, they will still be able to participate locally but will not be able to deploy or attend schools until the problem is corrected. “The six month window is the most important thing to remember,” added Colonel Anderson. “If you visit the dentist a few weeks earlier than six months before your birthday, the visit won’t count.”

For those who don’t have dental insurance, it is available at a very reasonable cost through the Tricare program. The program also covers orthodontics as well. To learn more about the insurance and to enroll on-line visit Forms are also available at the dental clinic.