The Dental Army Is Here

The Air Force’s 779th Dental Squadron is using new computer design technology to “make dental operations more efficient and to assist Airmen in maintaining dental mission readiness,” according to the U.S Department of Defense’s “Armed with Science” blog.

Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Machining (CAD/CAM) has been used by the Air Force to design everything from mission essential equipment to base facilities. And it is now also being used in the dental clinic to make crowns and other similar tooth restorations.

When a service member’s tooth needs restorative work, the tooth in question and surrounding teeth are photographed with a camera attached to CAD/CAM unit that sits near the dental chair. The images are brought into the design software, where a “crown proposal” is created.

The crown design is then sent to a milling unit for fabrication. A new ceramic crown can be “milled” or cut from a block of ceramic in approximately fifteen minutes. Within an hour, a dental lab technician can have a new restoration ready to deliver the same day.

The milling machine can produce multiple restorations in a day, while previous conventional fabrication methods took approximately 4-6 weeks.

“The success with CAD/CAM restorations is excellent and the procedure is more pleasant for patients. Patients generally do not require impression material in their mouth and there is no waiting time in which they are wearing a temporary crown while the permanent crown is being fabricated. The technology is especially useful when a member needs to deploy quickly,” Capt. Luke Cantamessa, 779th Dental Squadron, dentist, said.

CAD/CAM technology is being integrated across the DOD and will likely follow the same path as digital radiology, which is present in all USAF dental clinics. While not every USAF dental clinic has a CAD/CAM unit, new models and new capabilities are already being developed.

“The cost savings with CAD/CAM can be applied to other more expensive practices such as implants and surgical procedures. This helps broaden the treatment options available to patients,” said Maj. Nathan Krivitzky, Director of the 779th Dental Squadron Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency Program.

Each arm of the U.S. Military has its own dental squadrons or corps. The Dental Corps of the United States Navy was established by an act of congress in August 1912, and was originally formed to provide dental care to recruits who would otherwise be rejected due to the unhealthy condition of their teeth

The United States Air Force Dental Service was created in July 1949 and, as noted in detailed documentation of the Service’s history, have evolved “from (practicing) aviation dentistry to aerospace dentistry.

U.S. Army dentistry dates back to 1872, but the US Army Dental Command (DENCOM) was only official activated on November 1, 1993.

Military dental service members provide preventive and restorative care to enlisted members and their dependent families. They work under combat conditions, or on a hospital ship, in a clinic or hospital near an assigned duty station, or U.S. military base. They also conduct dental research, train other dentists, and contribute to humanitarian missions in the U.S. and around the world.

Three cheers for our dentist service members!


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