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Getting your braces tightened is about to get a little easier — though not less painful — at Osan Air Base.

An orthodontist from Yongsan Garrison will travel to Osan’s dental clinic twice a month, beginning Sept. 17, to provide services for active-duty servicemembers and command-sponsored dependents from Osan, Kunsan Air Base and Camp Humphreys. The change will affect dozens of patients.

For the past year, patients have traveled to Seoul for monthly checkups, said Col. Carroll Palmore, commander of the 51st Dental Squadron at Osan. Before that, there were no U.S. military orthodontists in South Korea.

“Anything that was being done was basically being done off- base, or people that had braces that were being stationed over here had to have them taken off before they came,” he said.

Kunsan personnel were treated by a civilian orthodontist off- base, he said.

Two Army orthodontists have been stationed at Yongsan Garrison’s Combat Support Hospital for about a year. The Air Force has 33 orthodontists worldwide, and the Pacific Air Forces typically assigns one orthodontist per 4,000 command-sponsored dependents, Palmore said.

Osan has 900 command-sponsored dependents, Palmore said.

According to Department of Defense regulations, military personnel assigned to South Korea are allowed to keep their braces if they had them before being notified they were assigned to the country. They can begin orthodontic care during their tour only if they will finish their tour at the same base — a problem for troops in South Korea, who are typically stationed in the country for one year.

“That’s the biggest problem for most people here, because they’re here for only a year and they don’t fall within that scope of care,” Palmore said.

He said Osan officials bought $100,000 worth of orthodontics equipment that will stay at its dental clinic permanently.

Patients are happy with the upcoming change, he said.

“The ones that are already undergoing treatment just love the idea, because they’re not going to miss a full day of work to have an appointment,” Palmore said. “Of course, their commanders like it, too.”


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