Tooth Hurty O’Clock

Written by: Airman 1st Class Nottingham, 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
A patient’s X-ray is displayed on a monitor in the 5th Medical Group building at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, April 27, 2023. Air Force Dental technicians help provide patient care in every procedure. U.S. Air Force photos I Airman 1st Class Nottingham

An Airman wakes up with excruciating pain in a tooth. They attempt to work through it, but it cripples their ability to perform, which has impeded their effectiveness and the shop they work for. Thankfully the group of highly trained dental professionals at Minot Air Force Base’s 5th Medical Group see the Airman as soon as possible, and are able to get them back into the fight right away.

With approximately 188,800 teeth to watch over on Minot AFB, it can be a daunting job to ensure every Airman’s health is overseen. One oral problem can lead to a wide array of other issues all over the body to include diabetes, heart problems and osteoporosis. It is for this reason dental professionals play a major role in the upkeep of a well deployable strong force.
Senior Airman Thalia Morales-Diaz, a 5th Medical Group dental technician, assists the dentist in the delivery of dental care, receives patients, examines dental health records and prepares patients for treatment. This allows for a seamless dental visit that gets the patient back to work as quickly as possible, while also making sure that not a moment is wasted in the dental clinic.

“We make sure the doctor is okay and well set up, whether that is x-rays, cleanings or scheduling,” said Morales-Diaz. “That way we have done everything we can do to ensure that they can do their job.”

From x-rays to cleaning teeth, Morales-Diaz works in every part of the dental practice. She ensures that every patient receives top notch care so they leave the clinic with the healthiest smile possible. Morales-Diaz has made it her goal to make sure patients are comfortable and happy from start to finish.

“I enjoy educating patients about their oral health and how to take care of their teeth,” said Morales-Diaz. “Then giving them a clean, healthy smile. After the appointment seeing them smile is reassurance of a job well done.”

After her shift at the medical clinic, Morales-Diaz goes back home to her two German Shepherd dogs and enjoys practicing Zumba. She not only practices Zumba but has recently achieved a certification that allows her to train others in her passion.
Most people dread the dentist, entering with a frown on their face. By the end of their visit, Morales-Diaz ensures they leave with a smile.

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