18th Dental Squadron keeps PACOM smiling

by Senior Airman Omari Bernard, 18th Wing Public Affairs
Kadena Air Base

KADENA, Japan -- KADENA AB, Japan - The Area Dental Lab here supports more than just Airmen and their families on Kadena; they support the entire Pacific Command.

The second largest ADL, out of the three in the entire U.S. Air Force, belongs to the 18th Dental Squadron. Here, Airmen work diligently behind the scenes creating miniature masterpieces of sculpted porcelain and metal.

The ADL produces a variety of devices designed to maintain the oral health of service members and their family members in the Pacific.

Tech. Sgt. Manuel Painter, 18th Dental Squadron NCO in charge of fixed prosthodontics, is one of many technicians who work the mission daily.

Painter said the ADL supports more than 207 doctors across PACOM and services 52 different PACOM dental treatment facilities.

The laboratory is separated into two different sections, removable and fixed. Together they process cases shipped from different labs from around the Pacific.

"Small labs that don't have the manning or need complex prosthesis fabricated ship us their cases," explained Painter. "We get those cases, fabricate them, and then send them back to their providers."

The lab builds gold crowns, complete dentures, hard night guards, soft or sport mouth guards and retainers. The ADL technicians produce approximately five to seven units a day.

Technicians for the ADL take great pride in their work and effects it brings to others.

"I've met some patients that were incredibly happy," Senior Airman Macy Bonham, 18th Dental Squadron dental technician. "Especially for those who've had more extensive prosthetics."

So whether they're fixing teeth or preparing night guards, these technicians ensure Kadena's  - and the Pacific's- war fighters stay smiling.

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