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The army goes rolling along ... miracles in Iraq: "why you should always brush your teeth".

During my year-long deployment as an Army dentist in Kuwait and Iraq, I witnessed a very different "conflict" than what is currently portrayed by the news media. I saw many wonderful and miraculous things as the people of Iraq worked with our servicemen and--women to rebuild their country. We went into the villages to provide dental exams and treatment. We would care for the Iraqi children first, then their grateful parents.

I accompanied Army veterinarians as they worked to rebuild the Baghdad zoo and conducted classes to teach simple spay and neutering surgeries to their Iraqi counterparts. I spent a full day sorting a warehouse full of toys sent by the American people for the Iraqi children.

Many valiant works of service between our two countries were apparent, including miracles that preserved our soldiers. The photo shows the building adjacent to the Ibn Sina hospital that took a mortar through the window at 2:30 A.M. Miraculously, all the soldiers billeted in this room were downstairs playing poker and were not injured.

The most miraculous event I witnessed showed how a tooth saved a sergeant's life!

Christmas Eve morning a soldier came into our clinic at the Ibn Sina Hospital in downtown Baghdad covered in his own blood. He recounted an incredible story.

Early Christmas Eve morning, two squads were assigned to sweep and clear two adjacent homes where Iraqi terrorists were holed up. The patient, SGT C, was leading one of those assault squads. The other squad hit their target first.

SGT C said that he heard a lot of small arms fire and yelling, so he thought he would round the corner and size up the situation before advancing his team. Unfortunately, as he turned the corner, he found himself staring directly into the barrel of a 9mm automatic pistol.

SGT C said he never had time to be scared, he just knew he was dead. The terrorist pulled the trigger and, miraculously, SGT C found himself still standing. He thought the bullet had missed and advanced on the Iraqi, who immediately surrendered.

After the enemy was rounded up, SGT C said he started to feel light-headed and one of his soldiers insisted that he proceed to the hospital. He realized at this time that he had lost his front tooth in the gun fight. He figured the ballistic shock from the weapon's blast had knocked it loose. He was wrong.

When he presented early that morning Major Kimberly Perkins, our oral surgeon, took a panograph and discovered the incredible truth.

The 9mm bullet did NOT miss SGT C. He was hit directly in the face. The bullet entered just below his nose where it impacted the apex of #8. The energy from the bullet was transferred to the tooth, literally ejecting the tooth from its socket, and stopping the bullet in its track. Other than the missing tooth, the majority of SGT C's injuries were confined to soft tissue.

SGT C is a citizen soldier--a reservist. When he returns to the states, the Army will see he has an implant replacement for the missing #8.

Meanwhile, the prosthodontist in Baghdad, LTC Richard Druckman, made him an acrylic interim treatment partial. When SGT C came in for the prosthesis, I said, "Can you imagine what the enemy thought when he shot you point blank in the face, and you just kept coming at him! Americans are invincible. No wonder he surrendered so fast!"

SGT C smiled and said, "This is why you should always brush your teeth!"

AnnaLee Kruyer, DDS, served in Iraq as a U.S. Army reservist. She currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Title Annotation:Army/ADAA
Author:Kruyer, AnnaLee
Publication:The Dental Assistant
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2005
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