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Keeping readiness with a smile

By Senior Airman Anthony Nin Leclerec 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

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Whether it’s providing guards, creating blueprints on a computer, building a bridge or designing a crown fit for a king, the U.S. Air Force 633rd Dental Squadron laboratory specialists can do it all.

There is an average of 32 reasons in an Airman’s mouth to that could make them non-deployable and the 633rd DS takes care of each one. Multiply that by all the Airmen at Joint Base Langley-Eustis and that’s a lot of teeth.

“The dental clinic averages over 30,000 patients seen and over 80,000 clinical procedures performed for fiscal year 2019,” said Robert Robinson, 633rd DS dental laboratory specialist. “The laboratory has performed over 27,000 procedures with an estimated value of over $8 million in dental laboratory cost savings.”

Service members are classified for their dental health in a category ranging from 1 – 4. Class 1 and 2 are considered on a deployable status.

“Fifty percent of all military recruits are in Dental Readiness Class 3 and 96 percent require dental care,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Teronda Hunter, 633rd DS superintendent. “Thanks to people like Mr. Robinson, dental clinics are able to eliminate pain and restore [oral] function for service members to be fully operational and increase their unit’s mission capabilities.”

The lab supports different care procedures by providing lab work to build custom dental prostheses (false teeth), implants, crowns, mouth guards, retainers and more. Every individual case is different and requires care, precision and attention to detail.

A crown, for example, is a cover or cap your dentist can put over a tooth. It restores the tooth’s shape, size, and functionality. If a cavity is too large for a filling or a tooth is cracked, worn down, or otherwise weakened, a crown can be produced in the lab for that procedure.

Crowns, bridges and implants are made from several types of materials such as ceramic, porcelain, metal alloys, porcelain fused to metal, or composite resin. In this process the material is often colored to blend in with the natural teeth.

Though many things are done by hand, the lab also counts with CAD/CAM (computer aided design/computer aided manufacturing) technology. This makes an easy transition from an extra oral scanner, to a digital design, to a manufactured 3D printing.

With this equipment, specialists can accurately capture bite registration, process everything from an individual tooth setup to the design of the denture base.

“In the past, members had to wait four weeks or more for crowns to be made,” said Lt. Col. Emily Ibarra, 633rd DS support flight commander. “During this time they were typically placed in a non-deployable status. With CAD/CAM technology, dental crowns can be made the same day allowing members to return to their units fully ready to support the mission.”

Service members are encouraged and can keep track of their dental status on the Air Force portal under IMR/ASIMS.

For more information, call the Langley Dental Clinic at 225-7630, option one then two.


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