Program Highlight: The United States Army has launched a new program to expand dental services for active duty soldiers. Although dental services are currently available to soldiers, the new Go First Class program will allow soldiers to receive an examination, cleaning, and treatment of simple fillings during a single appointment. In addition, soldiers can expect to receive other benefits including:
- Fluoride treatments;
- Oral hygiene guidance;
- Tooth varnish;
- Tobacco cessation tools; and
- Oral cancer screenings.
Each of the Army’s 130 dental clinics must be ready to offer Go First Class by October 1. The program reached initial operating capability in July after successful pilot programs at Fort Gordon, GA; Fort Bliss, TX; and Fort Shafter, HI.
Soldiers Served: The U.S. Army Dental Command (DENCOM) has 4,915 employees, of which 2,614 are dentists or dental specialists. DENCOM is responsible for treating approximately 500,000 active duty soldiers, as well as 500,000 members of the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve.
According to Col. Bryan Kalish, Director of Health Care Delivery for Army Dental Command at Fort Sam Houston, TX, “half of all soldiers have at least one cavity.” Moreover, the Colonel predicts that one-third of all soldiers who were cavity-free last year will be diagnosed with at least one cavity this year. However, he is very optimistic about the new program. “If every soldier had a Go First Class appointment, the Army would receive 1.25 million hours of lost productivity,” stated Col. Kalish.