Staff Sergeant Kopp’s army reserve unit got the call. They will be heading to Iraq.
SSgt Kopp was ready to go. This guy was a physical specimen. He passed his annual physical fitness tests without breaking a sweat. He spent hours at the gym. He ate a super clean diet. And he didn’t drink or smoke. For everyone who knew him, he was the epitome of discipline and health.
But before he could deploy, among other things, he would need to pass a dental exam. For SSgt Kopp, it was was nothing more than a box to check off before shipping out. Well, to everyone’s surprise, including himself, he failed that exam. SSgt Kopp discovered he had a deep cavity and would need a root canal. And with that finding, the medical team stamped his dental readiness form—“Class 3”. In military speak that means, “soldier is not deployable”.
SSgt Kopp is not unique here. Dental readiness has always been a struggle for the military. For example, during the first Persion Gulf War in 1990, 35-45% of reservists (and national guard) were stamped Class 3 or Class 4. You have to be Class 1 or Class 2 to qualify for deployment. And the readiness rates weren’t much better during the deployment to Iraq in 2003. The rates have improved in more recent years, but it still remains a challenge.
Even though SSgt Kopp was known for his discipline, that discipline did not extend to his daily oral health habits. He never flossed. He only brushed once per day for less than 30 seconds. And he often missed dental appointments.
The U.S. Army eventually fixed SSgt Kopp’s tooth and he eventually got deployed, but the U.S. Army strongly emphasizes that the primary responsibility for dental readiness falls on the individual soldiers. What soldiers do everyday is what matters the most. Daily discipline is hard, but it’s the best weapon the soldiers have to combat dental problems.
Obviously, you don’t have to be a soldier to benefit from a discipline of brushing, flossing and regularly seeing a dentist. We all need this discipline. We all need to be ready for our own missions. And a big part of being ready is being healthy, and that of course includes your oral health.
Are your teeth combat ready?
If you are currently looking for a dentist in the Taunton, MA area, go see Dr. Mark Turner. He and his team will help you achieve and maintain Class 1 dental status so you are always ready to deploy on whatever mission you choose in life.
Dental Health in the Army Reserves and National Guard–
A Mobilization Problem?, https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/ADA262249.pdf
Dental problems hurting soldiers’ readiness, https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/dental-problems-hurting-soldiers-readiness/
Image is for example only – reflecting good oral health.