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Bolling dentistry program residents complete year-long advanced training

Capt. (Dr.) Bradford Allen performs a presurgical evaluation on a patient. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. [Dr.] Dennis Holt)

Capt. (Dr.) Bradford Allen performs a presurgical evaluation on a patient. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. [Dr.] Dennis Holt)

Capt. (Dr.) Brandon Cummins (left) and Lt. Col. (Dr.) Nancy Motyka discuss treatment procedures for a patient. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. [Dr.] Dennis Holt)

Capt. (Dr.) Brandon Cummins (left) and Lt. Col. (Dr.) Nancy Motyka discuss treatment procedures for a patient. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. [Dr.] Dennis Holt)

Capt. (Dr.) Bradford Allen, center, performs periodontal surgery on a patient while discussing surgical options with Maj. (Dr.) Eddi Graham (left), the program’s periodontist. The doctors are assisted by Airman 1st Class Harold Gomez (right), dental assistant. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. [Dr.] Dennis Holt)

Capt. (Dr.) Bradford Allen, center, performs periodontal surgery on a patient while discussing surgical options with Maj. (Dr.) Eddi Graham (left), the program’s periodontist. The doctors are assisted by Airman 1st Class Harold Gomez (right), dental assistant. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. [Dr.] Dennis Holt)

BOLLING AFB, D.C. -- The Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency Program here graduated four new practitioners July 20 and the grads are now ready for Air Force worldwide service.

The program, one of 11 similar nationwide, has been active here since 1980 and the base has produced about 135 graduates since then. The purpose of the program is to build upon foundational knowledge.

"The technology explosion in dentistry has made it difficult to teach every skill adequately in four years of dental school," said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Nancy C. Motyka, a board certified general dentist and the program's director assigned to the 579th Dental Squadron here. "The latest advances in implant dentistry are particularly challenging because the technology is constantly evolving.

"Most of the core skills are sufficiently covered in dental school," she said. "We provide the residents with a broader experience and one that more closely fits the readiness needs of the Air Force.

"For example," she continued, "the residents are trained to provide conscious sedation to provide a more comfortable experience for anxious patients or patients about to undergo a difficult third molar extraction procedure."

Each year a central selection board meets at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, to choose highly qualified, recent dental school graduates to enter the intensive program. The Bolling instructional staff is well staffed to handle its share of students.

"We have two periodontists and two prosthodontists, each of whom is board certified; an endodontist; and an orthodontist," said Colonel Motyka. Once a week, a pedodontist joins Colonel Motyka to manage the program's pediatric dental cases.

While in the program the residents perform advanced, complex training in all areas of dentistry under the close supervision of seasoned Air Force specialists. The residents also do three three-week rotations at Malcolm Grow Medical Center, Andrews Air Force Base, Md., in oral and maxillofacial surgery. The rotations focus on extracting third molars under the supervision of two Andrews oral surgeons.

"I feel the most challenging aspect of the program involves the residents treating what we call comprehensive care patients," Colonel Motyka said. "Each resident is given a patient with a myriad of dental needs. The resident is expected to prepare the case and brief the entire teaching staff. This presentation includes photos which they are taught to take using special intra-oral photography. The case is then treated throughout the year, and then the completed case is presented again at the end of the program. These cases involve multidisciplinary coordination and careful planning."

This year 65 residents will graduate from AEGD programs throughout the United States.

The graduates and their next units of assignment are Capts. Margaret Studer, Tyndall AFB, Fla.; Bradford Allen, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; Brandon Cummins, Grand Forks AFB, N.D.; and James Renda, Menwith Hill AFB, England.

"The graduates understand the importance of keeping Airmen fit for deployment," Colonel Motyka said. "The skills the residents practiced here have positioned these dentists to keep the Air Force 'fit to fight.'"

A new class of five residents begins here Aug. 6.