Dentists honoured for work on Helmand-bound soldiers' teeth

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Dental staff at Colchester Garrison have been honoured for their tireless work to ensure that 16 Air Assault Brigade's soldiers' teeth were in the best possible condition before they deployed to Helmand province last autumn.

Colonel Tom Fleetwood, Commander of Colchester Garrison, presented the team of dentists, dental nurses and practice administrators at Defence Dental Services in Colchester with a Commander Joint Helicopter Command Commendation.

The citation praised ‘the collective excellence, dedication and commitment’ of the dental team, who ran a publicity campaign and evening surgeries to tackle a backlog of check-ups in the busy period before the brigade’s departure.

Senior Dental Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jo Loudon, said:

We had our work cut out to get the brigade’s troops to a suitable level of dental fitness ready for Afghanistan. It is a proud moment to have the tireless work of the team, and the importance of what we do for operations, recognised.

Dental health is often overlooked, but it is a crucial part of a soldier’s overall fitness to serve. A soldier in Afghanistan suffering from toothache will not be a happy and effective member of the team.

Our work was about reducing the number of soldiers who will have dental problems while on tour and, by that, improving the brigade’s operational effectiveness.

The surgery at Merville Barracks has chairs for six dentists and a hygienist, all working to NHS standards.

A dental nurse and hygienist from the centre have deployed to Afghanistan with Colchester-based 16 Medical Regiment to support military dentists based at Kandahar Airfield and Camp Bastion.