Dentists develop daily dental repair

Story and photo by Senior Airman Jose L. Leon
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Tech. Sgt. Charles Davis, 86th Dental Squadron fixed element leader, places a mold of a patient’s mouth into a 3-D scanner to use software to design and mill a crown Oct. 29 on Ramstein. The computer assisted design and manufacture of dental crowns enables dentists to have crowns finished in one day instead of 28 days.
Tech. Sgt. Charles Davis, 86th Dental Squadron fixed element leader, places a mold of a patient’s mouth into a 3-D scanner to use software to design and mill a crown Oct. 29 on Ramstein. The computer assisted design and manufacture of dental crowns enables dentists to have crowns finished in one day instead of 28 days.

Dental phobia, or the fear of dentists, goes by many names and has a broad range of severity, but for people suffering from this ailment or those who really just do not like getting their teeth drilled, the 86th Dental Squadron has established a process to make a long dental ordeal as simple as possible.

Last month, dentists on Ramstein implemented a procedure to decrease the time patients have to wait for a finished dental crown by 96 percent.

The same-day crown procedure uses computer-assisted design and manufacturing in order to make a 3-D digital picture of a crown preparation in order to virtually design the crown and mill it out of a block of ceramic.


Eligible candidates’ teeth are prepared in the morning and the crown is ready for delivery in the afternoon.

“The faster we can give patients their crown, the sooner they are able to deploy,” said Maj. Aaron Harding, 86th Dental Squadron dental laboratory flight commander. “For instance, I made a same-day crown for a flyer stationed at a remote location, who came to Ramstein for a TDY assignment. This saved him a return visit and allowed him to continue the mission as soon as he left the office.”

Without this technology, a patient would wear a temporary crown during the 28 days it took to make a permanent one from start to finish. Using computer-assisted design and manufacturing technology resulted in the reduction of labor and material costs by more than 70 percent per crown.

“The technology is intended for the dentist to capture the image and design the crown right at the dental chair,” said Lt. Col. John Walton, 86th DS area dental laboratory director.  “The laboratory is co-located with the clinic, allowing providers to offer full service, so dentists can see other patients while the crown is being made. I am proud of our team for making the best use of our equipment in these times of fiscal constraint.”

Same-day crown is a service offered by more than 4,000 dentists in the military and private sector as a way to use the latest technology to enhance patient care. While only a few patients a month undergo the procedure at Ramstein, the 86th DS anticipates these numbers will increase.

The procedure has a potential to save more than $55,000 a year and increase the crown and bridge section of the laboratory’s production capacity by 250 percent.

“In private practice, time is money,” said Col. Allen Hebert, 86th DS commander. “In the Air Force Dental Service, time is mission success.”

With few exceptions, no one likes having dental work performed on their teeth, but because of the effort of the 86th DS Airmen, patients can rest easy knowing they will spend as little time in “the chair” as possible.