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Spring 2017

A day in the life of an Air Force Dentist

This is the first in a series of articles featuring a different dentist from each of the federal dental services branches. Watch future issues of FDS eNews to read “A day in the life” profiles of members working in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Army, U.S. Public Health Service and Navy.

David E. Klingman, DMD, serves as Chief, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology at the David Grant Medical Center at Travis AFB in San Francisco. He is a staff instructor for AEGD/OMFS residency programs, directs oral/head and neck biopsy/consultation service for over 40 supported treatment facilities, and holds the rank of Associate Professor with the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. We asked Dr. Klingman why he enjoys his career in the Federal Dental Services.

My journey to an Air Force dentistry career began about a year after 9/11; I wanted to answer the call of service and steer away from the routine of civilian practice. Since my "blueing" as an Airman in 2003, I've benefited from tremendous professional development and international exposure.

On a typical day, I'll start in our Histopathology laboratory with grossing, or preparing tissue specimens for processing. I'll then review cases from the previous day and make a diagnosis for the clinician. During the afternoons, I'll either lecture, review cases, or see patients with the residents. I also manage continuing education for our facility, and serve as the Forensic Dental Officer should the need arise for dental identification.

In the federal services, we work under a very high operational tempo and we often perform duties that include military readiness, clinical administration and development as military officers. We may be called to deploy, serve overseas or be placed in harm's way. However, I've done things I never considered, including:
  • Completing two advanced training programs
  • Deploying, living and working in a tent for more than four months
  • Assisting in the administration of a field hospital
  • Serving as disaster team chief and acting hospital commander
  • Traveling the world with my family and making some of the best friends I'll ever have
As a member of the federal dental services and as an educator, I've continued to benefit from the continuing education, advocacy efforts and up-to-date teaching material that ADA offers. In addition, ADA has provided camaraderie, collegial atmosphere, connections and networking.

I'm honest with dental students considering federal service that mission comes first; yet we have loan repayment opportunities to offset the cost of professional training, and the capacity to perform our duties without incurring the costs associated with civilian practice. By serving our nation and its citizens, I feel a sense of community every day that I see as the best part of being a member of a health care profession and the profession of arms.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect official policy or position of the United States Air Force, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.

Don’t forget to renew your 2017 ADA membership

Your membership in the ADA means that you have organized dentistry advocating for you on issues that are important to federal dentists. Issues like compensation, loan repayment or funding for military dental research – just to name a few. Be sure to take a moment to renew your membership today and do your part as one part the cohesive voice the dental profession. Stand united with 161,000 dentists so that we can all succeed. 

Visit and have your Membership ID number and your credit card ready. Contact us with questions or to learn more about our Dues Installment Payment Program for Federal Dental Service members. Contact the FDS Membership Department at 800.232.2083. Outside the U.S., call 312.440.4646, or

House Appropriations Committee passes defense bill 

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense approved a $578 billion defense bill on March 8 for fiscal year 2017 that includes $6 million in funding for military dental research. At the ADA’s request, prior to the vote, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, whose district includes the Battlefield Health and Trauma Fort Sam Houston – San Antonio Military Medical Center, sent a letter to the committee.

Click here to read the full ADA News article

Tricare dental expansion begins May 1 

The Tricare Dental Program that covers many nonactive duty military members and their family members is set to begin a new contract May 1, following the military's agreement with United Concordia. 

Click here to read the full ADA News article

Air Force branch update

Each issue of FDS eNews will feature an update from the same branch of the federal dental services that is featured in the “A day in the life of…” article series. Stay tuned to future issues of FDS eNews for updates from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Army, U.S. Public Health Service and Navy.

Air Force update was provided by Dr. David Klingman, DMD, constituent secretary 2015-2017

Rather than provide you with the typical summary and update, I thought that I’d share with you a bit of how we’ve transformed the way we have represented our members and highlight the efforts of specific individuals.

In 2014, the Air Force was unable to send official representation to the ADA House of Delegates (HOD), without traditional elections until 2015. At that time, Drs. Casey Campbell, Benjamin Gantt, Jennifer Simmons and I were elected as your representatives, Drs. Courtney Burrill and David Schindler served on New Dentist Committee, and I was appointed the Constituent Secretary. Our intent was to serve for two-year terms (2015-2017) and to elect or appoint additional representatives in 2016 and 2017 to bring us into 2018 and 2019. 

Due to new guidelines, we’ve shifted to an informal ‘word of mouth’ appointment system. Drs. Jennifer Simmons and I attended the 2015 HOD, Drs. Karen Lapham and Ray Jeter the 2016 HOD, Drs. Benjamin Gantt and Wesley Shute plan to attend the 2017 HOD and we are in the process of selecting representatives for 2018 and 2019. Dr. Simmons will step up as our secretary when I transition out this spring. This has been unconventional, but we’ve found this to be a more effective way to ensure our members have representation.

The Air Force Dental Service continues to transform as we find ourselves moving toward a High Reliability Organization model, focusing on patient safety and the highest quality of care. Additionally, we continue to move toward a more unified mission with the other uniformed services as we come under the umbrella of the Defense Health Agency and combine with the other services’ teaching programs as our residencies collaborate as part of the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USUHS). In 2016, our one-year AEGD programs become USUHS affiliates for the first time, giving our residents and faculty access to academic and developmental resources. 

Military dentistry continues to transform as we integrate the latest technology into our practices, including the use of CEREC and CAD/CAM technologies, cone beam computed tomography and advanced imaging modalities for a wide spectrum of diagnostic and treatment uses, and a DoD-wide electronic health record.

I leave you with a thought from TED curator Chris Anderson: “Remarkable ideas come from every area of knowledge. Every so often it makes sense to emerge from the deep trenches we spend our working lives digging to step out and see the big picture and how the trenches interconnect. It’s very inspiring.” I hope you continue to be inspired and involved!

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect official policy or position of the United States Air Force, Department of Defense, or United States Government.