Dental lab artists, technicians help Dover AFB maintain oral health

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Shen-Chia Chu
  • 436th AW Public Affairs
Many people may be surprised to know there are some jobs in the Air Force that require a palette and a brush.

For the 436th Dental Squadron, the dental laboratory works behind-the-scenes with what resembles an artisan's painting brush to apply porcelain on metal substructures in order to make a porcelain-infused metal crown.

They sculpt porcelain and metal to replace missing teeth and related mouth or jaw structures by bridges, dentures, and other artificial devices such as night guards, sports guards, and even gold crowns.

"We don't see the patients day-to-day," said Tech. Sgt. Raymond Worl, 436th Dental Squadron dental laboratory NCO in-charge. "We help to maintain the oral health of Airmen and their families by producing a unique work of art for each individual - designing a variety of devices for dental repair of teeth and replacements."

Though the technicians don't meet their patients face-to-face; they know them by a mold and by a name.

"Each mouth seems to have a personality of their own and when the doctor provides the mold or impression of teeth for us, we alter the oral devices to match each individual," said Sergeant Worl. "It's like working with fingerprints, no two are the same."

Smiling patients are proof that lets a dental technician know they have accomplished their goal.

"The color, shape and every detail of a tooth needs to blend well with the others to create a natural look," said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Keene, 436th DS dental lab technician. "When the patient can't tell the difference in appearance, it functions properly and doesn't feel too bulky; we know we've accomplished our mission."

Each work of art functions, fits and forms like the real thing thanks to the lab technicians. Though patients may never meet the artist, their thanks are offered through every smile.

"It's our job to be precise, meticulous and perfect," said. Sergeant Worl. "We try to provide the best quality of dental appliances to all our patients to promote oral health."