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Bite in the fight
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- U.S. Air Force Maj. Tad Tholstrom, 380th Air Expeditionary Medical Group chief of dental services, provides dental care to several thousand service members while deployed to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing. Tholstrom, deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., stressed the importance of oral hygeine due to the increased risk for cavities while deployed. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Christina M. Styer)
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Dentist puts the bite in the fight in Southwest Asia

Posted 1/25/2013   Updated 1/25/2013 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

1/25/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Chills run down the Airman's spine as he sinks into the cold leather chair, bright light flashing in his eyes. He is overwhelmed with fear as a stranger approaches with sharp objects. This might sound like a horror movie, but it's actually your visit to the dentist.

For those deployed personnel in Southwest Asia, Maj. Tad Tholstrom, 380th Expeditionary Medical Group chief of dental services, assures service members there is nothing to fear from a visit to the dentist downrange.

"If someone gets a cavity while deployed, that's where I come in," Tholstrom said.

Tholstrom commented on the capabilities here to perform most mainstream dental treatments, such as composite resins, temporary crowns and even root canals, but stressed the importance of paying attention to oral health while deployed.

"A deployed location is also a high-sugar location," he explained. "We can go into the dining facilities and stuff our pockets with sugary-sweet stuff. If your oral hygiene is poor or you don't have the time to brush then everything is magnified in an environment like this".

Deployed service members are more at risk for cavities even if they brush, floss and maintain good oral hygiene habits.

"We drink bottled water here, and the amount of fluoride in that water is negligible," Tholstrom explained. "Also, with this hot location we tend to get dehydrated, and a dry mouth is a mouth where bacteria can flourish, eventually causing dental cavities."

The potential for a cavity increases when you consume sugar-rich beverages like soda and energy drinks, according to Tholstrom. The bacteria in your mouth metabolize the sugars left on your teeth and create an acidic environment which can break down enamel and cause cavities.

"Even sugar free soda, sports and energy drinks create more acidic environments," he said. "If you're sipping on them all day it maintains that acidity, promoting decay. I recommend if you choose to have one of these drinks, to have it in one sitting."

While he hopes there is no need to see you in his office, Tholstrom said he is here for you when you need him.

"I think people would be surprised to learn that our office is just like the environment they are used to with their dentist at home." he said. "We have the capability to restore fillings just like at home."

2/5/2013 11:53:44 AM ET
Hi Maj TadThank you so much for your service to our country. Sounds like things are going well for you. Did you finish your oral surgery residencySemper FiBrian Secrist DDS former Corporal in USMC
Brian Secrist, Littleton CO
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