Soldiers at exercise in Bulgaria can turn to a dentist when they need one
August 4, 2004
NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, Bulgaria — Come to Bulgaria, lose a few teeth.
Spc. Erica Morgan, an Army reservist with Alabama’s 361st Quartermaster Company, visited Dr. (Capt.) Patrick Wilson for another dental issue, but he noticed that the 26-year-old soldier’s wisdom teeth were showing signs of decay.
“The wisdom teeth were pretty badly broken down, and [I] recommended that she get them out while she was here, because they could develop pain and problems in the near future,” said Wilson, a 464th Medical Company dentist, currently based in Baumholder, Germany.
Morgan came to Bulgaria to take part in the Bulwark ’04 exercise, not to have dental surgery. But she didn’t reel back in horror at the suggestion to remove her teeth in the field.
“I thought it was a good idea,” she said. “Even though we’re in the field; they’re set up and equipped to do the job.”
Dentists can do a lot of procedures in a field environment, said Wilson, who has pulled four teeth since he began seeing patients at the camp on July 22.
“We can do anything from extracting wisdom teeth to replacing fillings to handling trauma; we can start root canals,” he said.
In a tent that looked like a set from the “M*A*S*H” TV show, Wilson and his dental assistant, Spc. Bridget McClure, went to work.
They first injected a local anesthetic into Morgan’s gums and then extracted Morgan’s top two wisdom teeth. The procedure took about 90 minutes.
“People expect that we can just tell them what’s wrong or only do an exam in the field,” Wilson said. “They may not be mentally prepared for a procedure, but they’re a lot happier once we take them out of pain.”