88 ABW Dental Squadron delivers mission success through oral care

  • Published
  • By Kayla Prather
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- From guided implant placements to routine dental exams, the 88th Dental Squadron “dominates the dirty work” each day by ensuring Airmen have proper oral health to perform their missions while improving overall readiness.

88 DS strengthens our Airmen and their units by ensuring they are in optimum oral health and that, from a dental perspective, are ready to deploy at anytime, anywhere. Like much of the Air Force Dental Corps, 88 DS has embraced innovations in digital dentistry such as computer aided design and draft technology, guided implant placement and 3D printing.

“The 88th Dental Squadron offers a full complement of dental services to include specialty care due to having board certified specialists in endodontics, prosthodontics, oral surgery, orthodontics, and periodontics,” said Col. (Dr.) Nathan Krivitzky, 88 DS commander. “We also have four advanced-trained comprehensive general dentists on staff that can augment all of our specialty care when needed.”

The squadron’s personnel are comprised of 85 members. This includes active-duty, civilians and contract team members. 

The unit also directs one of the largest Advanced Education in General Dentistry programs in the Air Force. The clinic treats 6,200 patients, performs 136,000 procedures and produces $9 million in production annually, which makes it one of the top two most productive clinics in Air Force Materiel Command.

The clinic is complemented by a full dental laboratory that consists of eight experienced technicians. The lab performs 15,230 procedures annually worth more than $1 million.

88 DS recognizes its primary responsibility is to support the U.S. Air Force and combatant commanders by ensuring a dentally-ready force - preparing Wright-Patterson’s Airmen, Reservists and Defense Department deployable employees for worldwide service.

The primary mission is to provide comprehensive, high-quality dental care to its beneficiaries by restoring oral health through clinical excellence and efficient use of available resources. Its providers partner with patients, employing evidenced based dentistry with state-of-the-art equipment and materials in a compassionate, patient-centered approach to achieve optimum oral health.

88 DS is the seventh-largest dental treatment facility in the Air Force and is comprised of four flights: the Clinical Dentistry Flight, Dental Support Flight, Base Dental Laboratory Flight and Dental Residency Flight.

Clinical Dentistry Flight

The Clinical Dentistry Flight is broken down into specialty departments with two involving surgical procedures. These departments include periodontics, endodontics, orthodontics and prosthodontics. Periodontics performs implant surgery, gum disease treatment and oral surgery. Staff members include providers and dental assistants.

“The Clinical Dentistry Flight takes care of the active-duty population,” said Master Sgt. Stephanie Jarrett, Clinical Dentistry Flight chief. “We also partner with Sinclair Community College for clinical work.”

For the past three years, the flight has partnered with Sinclair College to provide residents with hands-on experience to practice their clinical work. Sinclair college students are able to partner with 88 DS to receive a training opportunity that allows them to provide dental care.

The flight also works in digital dentistry.

“In the past, Airmen would have to create impressions for everyone for different procedures such as night guards,” Jarrett said. “Now it is all digitalized. They are able to use a wand to capture images in a patient’s mouth and it gets uploaded to our computers immediately…this saves time and helps patients faster and more efficiently.”

The Clinical Dentistry Flight supports AFMC’s national strategic mission by working in readiness. This flight helps to mobilize and get Airmen deployment ready whenever needed.

Dental Residency Flight

The Dental Residency Flight consists of 17 Airmen with personnel including residents, technicians, deputies and directors. Overall, the positions fit into two categories – technicians and provider technicians.

“In this flight, brand new doctors come in and have a one-year rotation in order to get credentialed in different areas,” Jarrett said. “They will go through clinicals, including every specialty. We are one of only 10 bases that provide this opportunity within the Air Force.”

This flight interacts with the civilian population, including the processing of referrals by calling providers to determine treatment plans and other services.

The Dental Residency Flight supports AFMC’s national strategic mission by aiding in readiness. By supporting Airmen through their one-year rotations, this flight provides readiness Air Force-wide and mission support.

Dental Support Flight

The Dental Support Flight is comprised of seven personnel, which are broken down into four departments: front desk, logistics, sterilization and radiology.

“Our flight is strictly to support our clinical provider whether a technician or a dentist,” said Master Sgt. Leonardo Malymezian, Dental Support Flight chief. “Our patients are human weapons (systems), so in order to keep our technicians and providers going, we need to make sure that we have all the equipment ready, running as efficiently as possible.”

This flight also supports the recently launched MHS GENESIS platform.. The Dental Support Flight also oversees ordering lasers.

“Lasers are new to dental in terms of tissue,” Malymezian said. “Whether it is tissue removal, tissue cleaning, etc... this is capability that not all bases have.”

This flight ties its day-to-day tasks to AFMC’s national strategic mission by ensuring Airmen are ready to deploy whenever, wherever.

“We ensure the human weapons system is kept deployable,” Malymezian said. “That’s the main mission. Dental is just as important as medical because people cannot deploy if they are not dentally ready.”

Dental Laboratory Flight

The Dental Laboratory Flight has seven personnel as part of three main elements – the fixed, removable and digital element.

“The fixed element would be anything that goes in the mouth, like a crown, fixed retainers, etc.,” said Master Sgt. Kevin Parker, Dental Laboratory Flight chief. “Removable elements would include dentures, dental implants and more. The digital element is where we are turning to for everything whenever it comes to the dental lab.”

All personnel in the Dental Laboratory Flight are fully trained in all three elements with the flight representing part of the Air Force’s 370 dental labs. This lab also works to produce more than one million dollars’ worth of appliances yearly.

“Digital dentistry is huge,” Parker said. “It is not brand new, but the way it’s going and how advanced it’s gotten, you can essentially turn five old school lab technicians into one brand new Airman that knows how to operate CAD/CAM because machines have become integral in our career field.”

When looking toward AFMC’s national strategic missions, the Dental Laboratory Flight partners wherever and whenever they can to help provide mission success and completion of mission essential tasks. This includes partnering with Air Force Research Laboratory to work on custom ejection seats, making aircraft parts when needed and much more.

Getting the job done
Overall, 88 DS “dominates the dirty work” each day by ensuring Airmen have proper oral health and are ready to deploy. This squadron works to perform their missions while improving overall readiness.

Among its accomplishments, it hosts one of the Air Force’s largest one-year dental residency programs, and leads AFMC and the Air Force in performance metrics such as dental readiness rates, patient satisfaction, patient safety and productivity.

Krivitzky also credits the squadron’s success to ongoing support from the regional community including strong partnerships with local colleges and the Dayton VA.

The squadron was selected as the AFMC Large Dental Clinic of the Year for 2022.

“Day in and day out, our squadron works hard to make sure we provide ready, reliable and excellent dental care to our Airmen,” Krivitzky said. “We want to help our Airmen fly, fight and win to make sure they are dentally ready and do not have