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8th MDOS polishes readiness with 3-D tech

U.S. Air Force Capt. Michael Santora, 8th Medical Operations Squadron dentist, and Senior Airman Keyshawn Everett, 8th MDOS dental assistant, prepare a patient for a filling at the dental building on Kunsan Air Base, Jan. 20, 2019. The dental clinic offers a variety of services including cleanings, fillings and extractions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Michael Santora, 8th Medical Operations Squadron dentist, and Senior Airman Keyshawn Everett, 8th MDOS dental assistant, prepare a patient for a filling at the dental building on Kunsan Air Base, Jan. 20, 2019. The dental clinic offers a variety of services including cleanings, fillings and extractions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Michael Santora, 8th Medical Operations Squadron dentist, and Senior Airman Keyshawn Everett, 8th MDOS dental assistant, perform a tooth filling at the dental building on Kunsan Air Base, Jan. 20, 2019. The dental clinic ensures its patients are ready to deploy and minimizes the chance of an emergency downrange. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Michael Santora, 8th Medical Operations Squadron dentist, and Senior Airman Keyshawn Everett, 8th MDOS dental assistant, perform a tooth filling at the dental building on Kunsan Air Base, Jan. 20, 2019. The dental clinic ensures its patients are ready to deploy and minimizes the chance of an emergency downrange. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Samuel Durham, 8th Medical Group Dental Flight commander, prepares the Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics machine at the dental building on Kunsan Air Base, Jan. 20, 2019. The CEREC machines photographs the mouth and creates a 3-D replica, which dentist can use to create an accurate crown of cap. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Samuel Durham, 8th Medical Group Dental Flight commander, prepares the Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics machine at the dental building on Kunsan Air Base, Jan. 20, 2019. The CEREC machines photographs the mouth and creates a 3-D replica, which dentist can use to create an accurate crown of cap. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Samuel Durham, 8th Medical Operations Squadron Dental Flight commander, holds a crown made by a Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics machine at the dental building on Kunsan Air Base, Jan. 20, 2019. The CEREC machine will allow the dental flight to make crowns and caps same day, instead of having to send stone castings to another clinic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Samuel Durham, 8th Medical Operations Squadron Dental Flight commander, holds a crown made by a Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics machine at the dental building on Kunsan Air Base, Jan. 20, 2019. The CEREC machine will allow the dental flight to make crowns and caps same day, instead of having to send stone castings to another clinic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Edwards)

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- For some, going to the dentist can be straight out of a horror movie, with a doctor poking and scraping at their teeth, using loud drills and blinding lights.

However, the 8th Medical Operations Squadron Dental Flight ensures all Kunsan service members have the brightest smile and best teeth with efficiency, comfort, and new technology to facilitate a quick return to duty after procedures.

“You only have one set of teeth, after your baby teeth, so you want to maintain them to the best of your ability,” said Staff Sgt. Sheena Corey, 8th MDOS Dental Flight records and reception noncommissioned officer in charge.

To help maintain teeth, the dental clinic offers a variety of services including cleanings, fillings and extractions. This care ensures individuals are fit to contribute to the mission.

“We are always prepared to take patients and make sure they are dentally ready to fight,” Corey said. “We do what it takes to get them up to where they need to be and ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.”

Individuals who don’t end up taking care of their teeth could face complications, leading to shortfalls in the mission.

“You could get an infection or some pain that will manifest over the course of your deployment and that would cause you to miss out… and to be evacuated to receive that care,” said Maj. Samuel Durham, 8th Medical Group Dental Flight commander. “Us being here keeps individuals ready and maintains that ability to return people to their mission quickly.”

The dental flight is able to support a high readiness status with the help of a new technology: the Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics (CEREC) machine, capable of producing custom-made crowns and caps.

The CEREC machine photographs an individual’s mouth and produces a 3-D model of the area, which replaces traditional stone castings. This 3-D image allows dentists to create a personalized crown or cap, which the computer will feed to a milling unit capable of cutting the piece needed. Once cut, the crown or cap will be placed in a heating unit where it hardens into the finished product.

“This will allow us-- within the course of a day-- to prepare the tooth and submit the crown,” Durham said. “From morning to afternoon, we can have some people back into a deployable status, as opposed to an estimated three- to eight-week turnaround time.”

The CEREC system will become fully operational when the clinic receives specific sterilization equipment for it. Once in place, this will replace the method of sending off stone casts to an alternate location for them to build crowns and caps.

In the meantime, Kunsan’s dental clinic professionals will continue to ensure each service member is fit to fight.
“We have a really great group of individuals here that work hard and work outstandingly well together,” said Durham. “They are really committed to doing the job and achieving the mission.”