Photo Information

Dental staff with 4th Marine Logistics Group work to fill a patient's tooth during exercise Javelin Thrust 2010.

Photo by Cpl. Tyler J. Hlavac

The Cure For The Common Toothache: MARFORRES dental personnel bring care to exercise Javelin Thrust 2010

15 Jun 2010 | Cpl. Tyler J. Hlavac

Prior to meeting Cmdr. Thomas Olivero and his staff, Pfc. Brandon Johnson had been suffering from tooth pain for months.

     Johnson, an infantryman with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, was well aware he needed a tooth filling and had been taking pain pills to deal with it. However, like many young Marine reservists he did not have health insurance to pay for dental care and was planning on saving his money to pay for a dentist visit.

      A better, and cheaper solution presented it self when Olivero, a dental officer with 4th Marine Logistics Group, simply filled his tooth for free in a matter of minutes.

     Johnson is just one of many Marines who have had their dental problems solved in the last few days by Olivero and his staff, who set up shop here June 12 and have since seen a steady stream of patients seeking dental care for a variety of ailments, including cavities, decaying teeth and cleanings.

      According to Olivero, who works at a family dentistry practice back home in Midlothia, Va., he has seen more than 50 patients in the last two days, many of whom are patients without appointments, far outnumbering the numbers of Marines seeking medical care.

     “Most of the guys here are young and healthy, they actually have more problems dentally than medically,” said Olivero. “Some of these guys are students or in jobs that don’t have health insurance. I often tell them ‘do you know how much this would cost you in private practice? A ton!’ said Olivero, explaining the numbers of patients.

     Dental readiness is an important issue for Marine reservists. Every Marine is assigned a ‘dental readiness class’ based on the current status of their teeth. Marines requiring extensive dental work can be labeled a ‘class three or four’, which can prevent a Marine from deploying overseas.

     The dental corpsmen will continue treating patients through the duration of exercise Javelin Thrust 2010, ensuring as many Marines as possible receive a deployable dental status.

     “We can’t do everything with our resources out here,” said Olivero. “However we can take care of their (the Marines) annual exam requirements, apply basic treatment and offer referrals for further dental care after they leave here.”

     For Marines like Johnson, who saved around $120 thanks to Olivero, the dental care is still a blessing.

     “The treatment they gave me was good, as good as a civilian dentist,” said the Memphis, Tenn. native. “I thought I would eventually have to spend some money, but they (the dental corpsmen) helped me out.”

     Javelin Thrust 2010 is an annual exercise conducted by MARFORRES in several different locations in the Southwest. This year, more than 4,500 Marines from ground combat, logistical and air wing units are participating in the training, which resembles a Marine Air Ground Task Force operating in Afghanistan, in terms of both terrain and mission objectives.