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Faces of the Mighty Ninety: Dental Clinic

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --

When most people think about going to the dentist, unpleasant thoughts usually consume them. Being in that dental chair can combine all your fears in one visit…pain, needles, blood, drilling and loud unfamiliar noises. These things have definitely caused me to be apprehensive about making a dental appointment in the past.

I can honestly say that is not the case at the 90th Medical Operations Squadron dental clinic. I went in for a crown as a follow-up to a root canal and I was afraid of the imminent pain. Fortunately, the care I received involved making sure I was comfortable and communicating to me what was going on throughout the entire visit.

The Mighty Ninety dental clinic is dedicated to delivering exceptional healthcare to all they serve. One of those dedicated personnel is Staff Sgt. Richard Rodriguez, 90th Medical Operations Squadron dental support NCO in charge.

I had the chance to interview him and learn a lot about how the dental clinic works.

Rodriguez’s role in the dental clinic directly contributes to the nuclear deterrence mission. The clinic has an impact on the Personnel Reliability Assurance Program, which ensures Airmen are physically and mentally fit to handle nuclear weapons.

“Dental makes sure Airmen are healthy and able to maintain their PRAP status,” said Capt. Robert Johnston, 90th MDOS PRAP officer in charge. “We provide mutual support by coordinating and communicating with each other.”

Rodriguez goes above and beyond to keep his patients happy.

“I have had patients tell me that their overall health is better because of me, and hearing that is a rewarding part of my job,” Rodriguez said. “I try to talk to them and build trust, so I’ve had patients come back looking for me.”

There is no such thing as a typical day in the dental clinic.

“Each day is something different,” Rodriguez said. “Some days I’ll be at the front desk, some days I’ll be doing exams or cleanings, and other days I’m the acting flight chief. Our dental assistants also take on many roles. The person at the front desk, our hygienists, the x-ray technician and the ones helping the surgeons are all dental assistants. I love dental because you’re always busy. It’s never a dull day.”

Well there you have it. There is no reason to shake in your boots when you find out it’s time for that annual check-up or put a death grip on the chair as you wait to have a cavity filled. Rodriguez is one of many highly-skilled healthcare providers in the 90th MDOS devoted to providing quality patient-centered care.