By Tech. Sgt. Michael Wykes | 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Dental readiness is an important aspect of keeping the Air Force fit to fight. Despite this, the dental lab technicians responsible for ensuring your readiness are not required by the Air Force to hold a certification from the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology.
While dental lab technicians across the Air Force are qualified through the Medical Education and Training Campus dental program, the Peterson Area Dental Laboratory is working hard to raise the number of certified dental technicians throughout the force.
“Our drive is to get 100 percent lab technicians certified,” said Master Sgt. Joshuwa Steel, ADL superintendent. “So when we hold the annual dental symposium, I also hold a certification exam after it’s over.”
In order to help the lab technicians prepare for this exam, the ADL hosts a prep course just days before the certification tests begin, Steel said.
“We have two instructors from the 5-level upgrade training program and myself who will be monitoring their progress.” Steel said. “They only get four hours to take their test, in which they have to make about five prosthesis.”
To help facilitate these exams, the NBC sends three examiners to proctor and grade the tests on the same day. According to their mission statement, the NBC believes that becoming a Certified Dental Technician demonstrates a significant mastery and knowledge of applied skills needed in dental technology.
“The drive for our dental techs to want to get certified is high,” Steel said.
Since initiating this exam program, the Air Force has seen an increase in certified dental technicians, raising their percentage from just six percent to 19 percent in the last few years, Steel said.
Whether it’s a dental symposium to explore new technology, certification exams to expand skillsets, or producing fixed and removable dental prosthesis for more than 3,000 providers at 343 facilities worldwide, the ADL contributes to keeping the Air Force at a high level of mission readiness keeping Airmen in the fight, and out of the dentist’s office.