Story by MC2 Heather Seelback
Photo by MC2 Walter M. Wayman
With the combination of diverse skill sets and ratings aboard Stennis, Sailors can manufacture, order or repair just about anything the crew may need. One talented group of Sailors aboard can even manufacture smiles.
Highly skilled Sailors from Stennis’ Dental Department can perform simple and complex oral surgeries in the ship’s dental clinic, the hub of dental care for John C. Stennis Strike Group.
The job of the oral surgery team aboard Stennis is to promote a high level of dental health and maintain a high level of dental readiness for the strike group. The oral surgery staff has been known to cross-deck to other ships in the strike group to lend an assist, and patients are flown aboard Stennis by helicopter for dental pain or emergent procedures.
Their specialties range from basic tooth extractions to maxillofacial surgery, and the oral surgery technicians can even manufacture and implant prosthetic teeth.
“Our patients are always excited to see what the outcome is going to be,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jeffrey Adamos. “We make sure they leave with a smile.”
Oral surgery technicians have their own NEC within the corpsman field, taught at a six-month school in San Antonio, Texas. During instruction, these corpsmen learn many types of surgery in preparation for their field.
Each oral surgery technician is hand-picked from the corpsman community to attend the surgical technician school. Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Luis Lozano was chosen to attend because he completed corpsman “A” school in the top five of his class.
After completing surgical technician school, Lozano was stationed at Naval Hospital Naples where he worked in general surgery, gynecology, and ear nose and throat, urology.
These days, Lozano performs evaluations for any type of oral surgery aboard Stennis, maintains Dental’s sterilization room and assists with x-rays.
“The most challenging part about coming to Stennis after Naples was the learning curve,” said Lozano. “I wasn’t instructed as a dental technician, and in the beginning, it was hard to learn. Overall, it was a great learning experience, and it opened up many possibilities for my future.”
Adamos says he loves doing prosthetic dentistry because it allows him to create. He considers each tooth a miniature sculpture, a work of art unto itself.
“To me, it’s like I’m the artist, and I’m giving each patient a piece of my work,” said Adamos.
Adamos says the skills he acquired in the Navy will provide him versatility in the job field if and when he decides to get out.
“I could go into dental prosthetics, jewelry-making, or movie special effects,” said Adamos. “I may even want to teach a dental lab program at the university level someday.”
The oral surgery technicians are instructed and led by Lt. Damon Jensen, the oral surgeon aboard Stennis.
“Dr. Jensen is great to work with,” said Lozano. “He likes to teach, and he is very supportive.”
Jensen said the most rewarding part of his job is working with his shipmates in the unique environment of a ship at sea.
“I love how we offer the same breath and quality of service you can get at a shore command,” said Jensen.
Whether they are pulling teeth or implanting new ones, the oral surgery team aboard Stennis goes above and beyond for their patients, one smile at a time.