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Ellsworth AFB hosts ADA leaders for CE

Rapid City, S.D.—Military and civilian dentists came together Aug. 17-18 for a behind-the-scenes look at Ellsworth Air Force Base that included continuing education from a military perspective.

Image: Capt. Bradley Harrelson presents Dr. Gist with a sketch of Mount Rushmore with a B-1 bomber
From South Dakota: Capt. Bradley Harrelson presents Dr. Gist with a sketch of Mount Rushmore with a B-1 bomber in appreciation for his participation in the Ellsworth AFB Dental Seminar in August. Photo by Airman Alystria Maurer

It’s a special treat for civilian dentists and a way for the Air Force to reach out to the dental community that provides an important local referral network to ensure that airmen are always deployment ready, Air Force officials said in a statement.

“Dental teams can go anywhere for dental CE these days, but it is rare to couple that CE with an amazing behind-the-scenes look at an Air Force Base and the men and women that carry out its mission,” said Capt. Bradley Harrelson, continuing education officer of the 28th Medical Group Dental Flight.

ADA President Raymond Gist, a veteran of the Air Force Dental Corps, was on hand to give an update on ADA activities and talk about the leadership skills he gained in the corps. Col. Brian Bergeron, director of the Air Force Endodontic Residency at Keesler AFB in Mississippi and an Air Force delegate to the ADA House of Delegates, spoke on external cervical resorption, management of the immature tooth, endodontic zebras (a case presentation series) and veterinary endodontics featuring the importance of military working dogs. Capt. Chris Winklepleck used the pre-brief, execution, de-brief method of objective-back mission planning for a B-1 flight crew to demonstrate its effectiveness in every day decisions such as running an office and treatment planning, the Air Force said.

The base lent itself to one-of-a-kind activities for participants that included:

  • A visit to the flight line, opportunity to climb in the cockpit of a B-1 bomber and a look at the B-1 bombs.
  • A military working dog demonstration by Air Force Security Forces that enabled Dr. Peter Sotherland of Hot Springs, S.D., to undergo a dog attack in a padded training suit.
  • A demonstration by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, the airmen who disarm potential hazards or suspicious packages, and a demonstration of how they detect an improvised explosive device. Tech. Sgt. Jayson Wells told a story about a deployed dentist who fixed a dislodged restoration for him: “If you don’t think your job connects to mine, then you are wrong, because when you are attempting to concentrate on disarming a bomb that could potentially explode with the slightest false move, the last thing you want is the sudden jolt of tooth pain as you take a deep breath to focus.”
  • An up-close look at the armored Humvee, the bomb robot and the extremely protective bomb suit often featured in movies.

Attendees included Paul Knecht, executive director of the South Dakota Dental Association; Dr. Edward Vigna, ADA 10th District trustee; and Dr. Eric Unkenholz, 10th District representative to the ADA New Dentist Committee.

“It was so interesting to see all of the different jobs that people did as we toured the base,” said Dr. Vigna. “The only thing that most of the general population thinks about is war when they think about the military, but more of the public should experience a tour like that so that they will see all the very professional and intelligent airmen that do so much for the country.”