Date: February 14, 2013
Place: Fort Meade, Maryland
Interview: Captain Ryan Romero
My name is Captain Ryan Romero and I’m an Army dentist.
It’s our job to make sure that everyone gets an exam every year and we have to make sure that everybody’s dentally fit. If they have any issues dentally, we have to take care of those before they deploy. A deployment is any type of mission where the patient or the service member has to go overseas, and basically stop everything they’re doing and help with a mission.
What’s your day like?
My day typically starts with exam and sick call. Anything [any person] that walks in the door, from exams to people in severe tooth pain. Some of the things that I like to do are root canals and crowns [putting a cap over the tooth] and bridges [replacing missing teeth].
What is a root canal?
A root canal is sometimes needed when somebody has a large cavity that’s real close to the nerve and the bacteria has gotten into the nerve and caused pain. So in order to save the tooth, you have to do what’s called a root canal.
How did you get started?
My first job was to be a dental assistant. So I was actually on the other side of the chair helping the dentist. So I enjoyed it so much that I decided to pursue a career in Army dentistry.
How to become a dentist
I would encourage that they [kids] get really good grades in school. Focus on math and science, for the most part. And another thing I’d suggest is maybe taking an art class. It helps build a foundation for using their hands and that’s something that’s a very important aspect of dentistry, being comfortable working with your hands. It gives them a keen eye for detail. With working with such a small field [area], you really have to pay attention to detail.
These are my Dental Loupes that I use to help magnify my field of vision. So basically every time I work I wear these so I can tell exactly what I’m looking at and how far down I need to go.
How to take care of your teeth?
My advice for kids would be, first and foremost a healthy diet. Believe it or not a healthy diet can really go a long way to keeping your teeth cavity free. I would encourage making smart decisions for snacking and incorporating fruits and vegetables into the daily diet.
Drinking plenty of water and brushing twice a day for two minutes. And more importantly, they should probably keep up with their regular check ups with their family dentist.
(Tooth Image courtesy of the American Dental Association.)