Kirtland’s 377th Dental Clinic ensures Air Force readiness

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Karissa Dick
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The 377th Dental Clinic at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. stands as a beacon of service, commitment, and excellence. The Airmen at this clinic embody the core values of the Air Force, with a mission that prioritizes the well-being of Airmen and service members. Their dedication to ensuring dental health goes beyond routine care as they recognize its crucial role in the overall readiness of the entire Air Force.

The 377th Dental Clinic aims to help military members stay mentally and physically fit for their duties by prioritizing dental health.

“We’ve learned that issues with teeth and the mouth can be indicators for other things that are going on in the body, so having good dental health and oral health is super important to your overall health,” explained Master Sgt. Tamara Hennis, 377th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron. “We are here to make sure our Airmen are healthy, able to perform their mission, and have a good quality of life.”

According to Hennis, the clinic offers a limited range of services, including readiness exams, dental cleanings, hygiene instructions, general operatives like fillings, retainers and mouth guards, limited oral surgery such as extractions, gum surgery, root canal therapy, bridges, limited implant services, and scheduling follow-up appointments. Active-duty service members are eligible to receive care from the clinic. Guard and reserve, who are not on active orders, are only eligible to receive dental exams.

The clinic technician’s daily duties involve meticulous patient care, with each hygienist seeing approximately seven patients a day and the clinic in total serving around 60 patients a day. The clinic uses a dental class system to decide which treatments are most important, focusing on the Airmen falling under class three who can't be deployed until their dental issues are resolved.

When patients require specialty care, such as root canals, wisdom teeth removal, or any other invasive oral surgery procedure, the clinic will refer them to off base dental clinics within the Tricare network. Patients are only referred for specialty care when it is readiness needed care per the clinic’s referral guidance.

“We have a good relationship with several clinics off base that we’ve worked with in the past,” elaborated Hennis. “We are talking and coordinating with those clinics on a daily basis, so we can make sure we are meeting the treatment needs of the patients.”

According to Senior Airman Dayverson St. Phard, 377 OMRS dental technician, the clinic uses state-of-the-art equipment, such as a computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing machine for 3D scanning, which allows precise dental appliance creation, like mouth guards and retainers, without requiring manual impressions. Another notable addition is the panoramic x-ray machine, which also offers detailed 3D images for procedures like dental implants. The integration of this equipment enhances the quality of care provided by the clinic when serving our service members.

With a strong focus on readiness, the clinic also conducts internal training sessions, ensuring their team remains well-versed in the latest technologies and advancements in dental care.

“Within our unit we do trainings like dental retraining or refreshers and completing our computer-based training courses. We have weekly briefings about upcoming things in the clinic and updates and advancements from Defense Health Agency,” explained St. Phard. “Our briefings and trainings help us know how to properly use our equipment and help us perform our job better.”

Additionally, the clinic’s training extends beyond routine operations to include monthly training days with the 377th Medical Group. These collaborative training days include medical contingency readiness plan training that covers decontamination, triage, and biohazard response in preparation for possible incidents that require medical emergency response.

“During these trainings we work together and have great communication with them,” said St. Phard. “We are one team, one fight.”

Highlighting the clinic's commitment to excellence, the team recently received the 2023 Team 3rd Quarter Award during the 377 MDG 3rd quarter award ceremony.

“Our team here is awesome. We have some of the best Airmen that are hard workers and can think critically,” exclaimed Hennis. “It was impressive to see we won and see the culmination of everything we are doing and know we are appreciated.”

Through their mission-driven approach, collaborative efforts, and continued training and preparation, the 377th Dental Clinic ensures the well-being of Kirtland’s Airmen and service members, contributing significantly to the overall readiness of the Air Force.


(To make appointments with the 377th Dental Clinic, please call 505-846-3027.)