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Face of Defense: Air Guard Dentist Leaves Patients Smiling

By Air Force 2nd Lt. Matthew Lucht
184th Intelligence Wing

WICHITA, Kan., Nov. 8, 2012 – For the first time in five years, the 184th Intelligence Wing dental office has a traditional Guard dentist, Air Force Maj. Mark Sheils.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Maj. Mark Sheils, a Kansas Air National Guardsman and dentist for the 184th Intelligence Wing based in Wichita, Kan., is the first dentist the wing has had for five years. Sheils travels from Fargo, N.D., to attend monthly unit training assemblies. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Matt McCoy

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The dentist said he knew when he joined the unit there would be some challenges ahead.

“The 184th Medical [Group] had a health services inspection coming up and I was aware of that,” Sheils said. “I got wind that they needed a dentist and I heard that it was a good unit, so that is how I got down here.”

“It is nice to have someone in-house that if you have issues that you can come over and get your questions answered,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Delaney, a radiology technician with the 184th IW. “Instead of having to go to the dentist across base or off base, we have someone in-house that can explain the situation.”

With not having a Guard dentist for five years and preparing for a health services inspection, the dental office has been busy seeing patients. Since Sheils arrived, he and his staff have ensured that everyone in the wing has a dental chart that is up to military standards.

“We have to be at a certain deployable strength and it was a challenge of getting everyone up to snuff or up to that standard, and I think that we did that well,” Sheils said.

“It is a madhouse down here, now that they are trying to get the five-year medical and dental exams on the same month, I would say that we see 40 to 50 patients here on Sundays,” Delaney said.

Even though the 184th IW now has its own dentist, Guardsmen can’t use that service in place of their private dentist. An Active Duty/Reserve Forces Dental Examination form -- DD Form 2813 -- is still required to be turned in to the medical group.

“I am only doing a military dental exam here, I am not their primary dentist,” Sheils said. “What we are looking for is someone that can be deployed and not have an immediate problem with their teeth or oral health.”

One thing that is very evident after talking with Sheils for a couple minutes, his accent indicates that he isn’t from Kansas.

“I have a private practice up in Fargo, N.D., I have been in practice there for about 15 to 20 years now,” Sheils said. This means that, like many other Guard members, Sheils travels a great distance every drill weekend to be a part of the 184th IW.

“I am a homebody and this was a major step for me to come down here but it has been good though. It is fun to come down here and meet people,” he said.

“I have to give him props because that takes a lot of dedication and a lot of service before self,” Delaney said. “You know, he isn’t here to make the money but he is here to make sure that the people of the 184th are taken care of.”

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