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59MDW kicks off children’s dental health month

Col. Jeffrey Thompson, 59th Medical Wing dentist, does a routine check-up on a patient as part of children’s dental health month, Feb. 9, 2018, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. One out of every four children has an oral hygiene health issue, according to the American Dental Association. The primary mission of the 59th Dental Group is to maximize the dental readiness and oral health of active duty members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keifer Bowes)

Col. Jeffrey Thompson, 59th Medical Wing dentist, does a routine check-up on a patient as part of children’s dental health month, Feb. 9, 2018, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. One out of every four children has an oral hygiene health issue, according to the American Dental Association. The primary mission of the 59th Dental Group is to maximize the dental readiness and oral health of active duty members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keifer Bowes)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --

The 59th Medical Wing’s 359th Dental Squadron kicked off the American Dental Association’s children’s dental health month by offering free cleanings and check-ups to active duty service members’ dependents at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, February 9th, 2017.

The program’s goal is to get children excited about dental hygiene, and promote healthy life-long habits.

“This event is just the first in a multitude of events we have planned,” said Maj. Sarah Wheeler, 359 DTS flight commander. “We go to all the schools on base and do preventative oral hygiene instruction. Oral health problems are the number one preventable disease in children. All it takes to prevent it is for us to teach good habits at early ages.”

Lt Col. (Dr.) Stephen Gasparovich, a pediatric dentist from the 59th Dental Group, spoke on how wide spread oral hygiene problems are in children.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in four children ages two to 11-years has untreated cavities in their baby teeth,” he said.  “The National Institutes of Health report that 80-percent of tooth decay is found in just 25 percent of children, primarily from low-income families.”

Tech. Sgt. Ave Young, a photojournalist from the 502nd Air Base Wing, testified to the importance and convenience that the day’s event provided to both her and her child.

“I think today’s event is great,” she said. “It’s very beneficial that I can come on base rather than going through the process of calling a different office. I like that a military dentist can work with my military dependent, because they understand our schedules and relate to us more than a dentist off base could.”

For more information about the 59th MDW, including dental outreach initiatives, and the new texting service, visit www.59mdw.af.mil/text/.