Custom comfort: OSI hearing clear after dental visit

Story and photos by Airman 1st Class D. Blake Browning 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Capt. Christopher Tracy, 86th Dental Squadron dentist, applies molding material to the ear of an Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent Jan. 6 at an OSI office on Ramstein. Each mold took 10 to 15 minutes to become firm enough to remove.

Did you hear the one about the teeth? A dental team visited members of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations to fit agents with custom earpieces Jan. 6.

Teeth and ears seem like an unlikely pairing, but the Airmen who create the custom earpieces use the same skills that they have trained on to create moldings for crowns.

“That’s what’s so cool about it,” said Capt. Christopher Tracy, 86th Dental Squadron dentist. “We were given the training, and we have the lab support right here on location. It’s all done in-house. It saves time and money for everyone.”

Tracy and Airman 1st Class Rashaun Donald, 86 DS dental technician, visited an OSI office to obtain the moldings for custom earpieces.

Within the past year, two OSI agents have requested and received custom earpieces from the dental office on Ramstein. One of the agents really enjoyed the earpiece and spread the word to the rest of his unit, who shortly after requested the same earpiece.

“The person who originally told me about the effort was Capt. Nathan Larson,” Donald said. “Once he told me, that’s when I began to set everything up. I was able to gather the materials that were needed, get in contact with the correct parties to coordinate schedules and block off the time in the schedule that was necessary.”

This isn’t the first time dental has made custom earpieces for a unit before. In the past, air traffic control Airmen have received earpieces from the dental office on base.

The Air Force core value of ‘Excellence in all we do’ is the foundation on which Airmen take pride in carrying out their jobs in the most efficient way possible.

“We’ve never made earpieces for the whole OSI unit before, so this was a first,” Tracy said. “We went over to them so they didn’t have to come to dental. It saved a ton of man hours because they were just in their office and it only took us a few hours to get the moldings. If 11 people had to come to dental to have impressions made, it would be 11 different appointments that would take 30 to 45 minutes each, because 11 technicians would have to set up for them and clean up afterward.”

Additionally the saved time wasn’t the only benefit to the procedure. These Airmen saved approximately $20,000 when services were compared with that of an outside organization.

Together with the cost effectivity, another benefit of the new earpiece is each OSI agent gets their own custom fit earpiece to complete their mission.

“The only reason we would need to do any adjustments on the earpieces are if someone feels like the earpiece is a little too uncomfortable for them,” Tracy said. “Then we would just adjust it a little bit.”

As many Airmen know, it’s the small things that ease everyday aspects of the job that make the most difference in the areas of morale and readiness.

“They’re wearing their earpieces all day; this will also make it a lot more comfortable,” Tracy said.

Innovative cooperation between the different units on Ramstein is just another way the Airmen of Ramstein live the core value of ‘Excellence in all we do.’

Materials used to capture the shape of an ear lay on a table in an Air Force Office of Special Investigations office Jan. 6 on Ramstein. Airman 1st Class Rashaun Donald, 86th Dental Squadron dental technician, was responsible for gathering the material prior to the dental squadron supporting OSI’s request.