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US Air Force meets Royal Air Force dentistry

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- A joint US and Royal Air Forces dental conference took place at the Liberty Club here March 14.

Approximately 45 dentists and dental hygienists came together to meet servicemembers in similar career fields and continue their dental education.

Conference participants were schooled on subjects ranging from dental techniques to equipment. The objective of the lectures was to try to better understand each others' systems.

Before the conference, Col. Douglas Wilson, 48th Dental Squadron commander, said, "We hope to develop friendships with our British colleagues, exchange ideas and ultimately provide better treatment for our patients."

"This is the first year that we get to have a face-to-face education experience with our British counterparts," he added.

"I think this is a great opportunity for us to learn about our American counterparts," agreed RAF dentist Gp. Capt. Dermot McCarthy, US Air Force colonel equivalent. "I am really curious to find out how American Air Force dentists provide care to their servicemembers."

At the end of the day, many of the participants agreed both RAF and USAF are on the same track when it comes to the care of their patients.

"The problems that we face are really no different than the ones they face," said Colonel Wilson. "Just because they wear a different uniform does not change things and doesn't make anyone immune from the day-to-day struggles of providing dental care."

Dentists gathered from RAFs Lakenheath, Mildenhall, Menwith Hill, Upwood, Croughton and various other RAF bases in the East Anglia and Midlands area to attend the dental conference.

Chalking the day up to a huge success, Colonel Wilson and other participants felt had a big take-away.

"We hope to make the conference an annual event and make it bigger and better every year," said Colonel Wilson.

The 48th Dental Squadron cares for more than 51,000 TRICARE eligible members from RAFs Lakenheath, Mildenhall, Feltwell, Croughton, Alconbury and Upwood. The squadron provides dental work such as general dentistry, endodontics and orthodontics.