NAS Meridian Community
Eight Minutes for a New Crown
Story by Jason Bortz on 04/09/2019
PENSACOLA, Florida – Eight minutes. Eight minutes is all takes to make a crown at one of Naval Hospital Pensacola’s (NHP) Dental Clinics.
Using a computer-aided design (CAD) machine equipped with diamond tip drills, dentists at one of NHP’s Naval Branch Health Clinics (NBHC) with a CAD machine can make and install a crown during the same appointment.
To ensure all the dentists throughout NHP are properly trained and privileged to use the CAD machine, NBHC Naval Air Station Pensacola’s (NASP) Dental Clinic hosted a week of training April 2 5. The training allowed new dentists with NHP the opportunity to learn how to make crowns with the CAD machine and for experienced dentists to learn about updates to the machines.
“I love using the [CAD] machine because it helps us to improve the readiness of the commands we support,” said Lt. Cmdr. Doris Lam, a dentist at NBHC Belle Chasse, Louisiana, referring to active duty service members she sees at her clinic. “I can expedite their care with this system.”
With the CAD machine, the dentist takes a digital image of the tooth that needs a crown while the patient is in the dental chair. Once the image is captured, the CAD forms the crown out of a ceramic block and only eight minutes later the dentist can install the crown. Getting a crown used to take two appointments, but can now be done with only one — which decreases amount of training missed by active duty service members.
Prior to using the CAD machines to make crowns, dental laboratory technicians at NBHC NASP made crowns for all the branch clinics assigned to NHP. The technicians were not quite as efficient as the CAD machines.
“We could do about eight or nine crowns a week,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jordan Witten, a dental laboratory technician at NBHC NASP. “With the CAD machines producing crowns, we can now support the dentists in other areas such as forming night guards and dentures.”
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth to restore its shape and strength. A crown will protect a tooth that has been weakened by decay or a broken tooth that has been worn down. While the CAD machines are a great resource, preventing the need for a crown can be achieved with proper oral hygiene.
“Brush and floss your teeth daily to prevent cavities and the need for a crown,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jackie Hogan, department head the Dental Clinic at NBHC NASP.
The CAD machines are currently at NBHC Belle Chasse, Louisiana; NBHC Gulfport, Mississippi; NBHC Meridian, Mississippi; NBHC Mid-South, Millington, Tennessee; NBHC NASP; NBHC Naval Air Technical Training Center, Pensacola, Florida; and NBHC Corry Station, Pensacola, Florida.