RAWAH, Iraq --
The Warlords of Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 recently passed the five-month mark of their deployment to al-Anbar province, Iraq, which is reason alone to smile. However, the Warlords have another reason to show off their pearly whites.
Many Marines in the battalion are due for annual dental exams, and some have dental problems that need attention.
Since the recent opening of a dental facility on Combat Outpost Rawah, Sept. 3, more than 140 service members have had exams and routine dental care provided to them.
“My section wanted me to (visit the dentist) out here vice doing it back in the States,” slurred Sgt. Steven Niemi, 23, a watch chief with TF 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines with a numb jaw. “They told me they could fill (the cavity) here or when I get home, so I just had it done and they did a really fast, good job.”
Since Marines on deployment don’t always have the opportunity to see a dentist immediately when dental problems arise, aching teeth can become a distracting nuisance.
“(Dental problems) can become irritating and painful, which takes people’s minds off of what they should be focused on and can make them combat ineffective,” said Niemi, a native of Marquette, Mich.
Whether deployed or home in the States, proper dental care is always a priority for Marines and sailors. Marines and sailors are required to have semi-annual appointments to ensure they do not need any dental work, but that’s not always possible when deployed. The new dental facility will help Marines deployed here maintain oral hygiene.
“Usually Marines are pretty well taken care of before they (deploy),” said Navy Lt. Chris Beale, 28, from Cadillac, Mich., a dental surgeon in training with 2nd Combat Logistics Battalion, which is attached to 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines. “We’ve done a lot of exams, (repaired) chipped teeth, extractions and other routine stuff. Some people have a lot of decay from high (carbohydrate) diets and drinking too many (sports drinks), but we haven’t seen too many people who don’t take care of their teeth.”