USAF DENTAL CORPS BADGE

One of the five medical corps that comprise the United States Air Force Medical Services, the USAF Dental Corps was not officially established until July of 1949. But its origins actually date back to the late 1920s and early 1930s, as the number of airmen reporting toothaches and other types of oral discomfort began to grow as airplanes became capable of higher-altitude flight. Following the introduction of the B-29 Superfortress in 1942, these reports increased not only in number, but also in the severity of symptoms they detailed. Between one and three percent of airmen were reporting cases of aerodontalgia—toothaches caused by the significantly lower barometric pressure at high altitudes—and in some cases the symptoms were so severe missions had to be aborted.

Truth be told, however, the USAF Dental Corps would likely have come into existence even if no Airmen had ever complained of toothaches during flight. That’s because by the time the United States Air Force was created in 1947, medical authorities understood that oral hygiene was a critical component of overall health, and that poor dental health could affect service members on a multitude of levels with potentially drastic impacts on their performance and combat readiness and capability.

With a motto of “"Proudly Serving and Enjoying Our Service…A Team Sport,” the Air Force Dental Corps has earned a reputation as a leader in developing new, highly effective dental techniques while reigning in costs. Like all commissioned officers, members of the Dental Corps must complete the five-week Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. At that point, they embark on the final step before being given their first permanent assignment: the USAF Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD), postgraduate dental school featuring residency training that provides officers the skills and to be able to deliver complete dental care in both standard clinical setting as well as deployed situations in forward operating areas. In 2015, the AEGD’s residency program, held at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, was expanded from one year to 24 months.
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