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“No bite, no fight:” Reserve Citizen Airman balances dentistry career in and out of uniform

Maj. Lindsey Merchant, 301st Medical Squadron dentist, stands with her dental equipment at the squadron, Feb. 3, 2018, at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. The dental clinic here provides Airmen with dental exams to assist in keeping them mission ready and deployable. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katherine Miller)

Maj. Lindsey Merchant, 301st Medical Squadron dentist, stands with her dental equipment at the squadron, Feb. 3, 2018, at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. The dental clinic here provides Airmen with dental exams to assist in keeping them mission ready and deployable. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katherine Miller)

Air Force Maj. Lindsey Merchant, 301st Medical Squadron dentist, performs a dental exam for a patient in an exam room, Feb. 3, 2018, at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. Merchant has been a dentist for the Air Force since her graduation from dental school in 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katherine Miller)

Air Force Maj. Lindsey Merchant, 301st Medical Squadron dentist, performs a dental exam for a patient in an exam room, Feb. 3, 2018, at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. Merchant has been a dentist for the Air Force since her graduation from dental school in 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katherine Miller)

NAVAL AIR STATION FORT WORTH JOINT RESERVE BASE, Texas -- Growing up, Maj. Lindsey Merchant, 301st Medical Squadron general dentist, spent her summers volunteering in her aunt’s dental office. From cleaning to sterilizing equipment, this introduction to the field greatly influenced her desire to one day become a dentist herself.

Little did she know, one day, the United States Air Force would make her dreams a reality.

“The Air Force gave me a scholarship through the Health Professional Scholarship Program which paid for all of my schooling,” said Merchant. “In exchange for my schooling, I signed a five-year commitment to the Air Force.”

She attended Baylor School of General Dentistry and graduated in 2010.

Upon graduation, she began her active duty career as a commissioned officer at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, where she also completed an advanced education in general dentistry residency. This allowed Merchant to acquire the skills and ability to practice beyond the scope of general dentistry.

“During my residency, I learned more about dental implants, extractions, intravenous sedation, orthodontics and endodontics, so you can do more than most general dentists,” said Merchant.

After serving three and a half years on active duty, Merchant gave birth to her first child, who required special needs attention and treatment. Merchant and her commander were able to move her to the Air Force Reserve to continue serving while giving her daughter the attention she needs.

Since then, Merchant has opened up her own private dental practice while continuing to serve as a general dentist in the 301st Medical Squadron. She explained that though the Reserve is different than active duty, she loves getting to know her patients and serving as a wingman to everyone she meets.

“I really enjoy what I do here and it’s about serving my country,” Merchant said. “Because no bite, means no fight!”

To learn more about dental plans offered through TRICARE Reserve Select, please visit: https://tricare.mil/Dental.aspx.