MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- More than 100 sailors from the Naval Dental Center gathered to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Dental Technician rating in a banquet at the Heritage Club April 11.
Navy dental technicians have been performing duties as assistants in the prevention and treatment of dental diseases, and in the administration of dental facilities even before the designation of their rating in April 1948. Throughout military history, dental techs have also proven to be an invaluable asset to service members.
"We have taken part in all of this country's major conflicts since our inception, including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, the Persian Gulf and we currently have dental technicians serving in Iraq," said Master Chief Bill Green, NDC command master chief.
Green explained that a lot has changed since the earlier years of the dental tech.
"We've come a long way from the days when we only wore masks on Halloween ... when only the oral surgeon would wear gloves during a procedure ... when there was no need for more than one set of operative instruments per operatory," said Green.
As part of the annual banquet, a cake-cutting ceremony was held for the oldest and youngest dental technicians as a way to honor dental technicians and their contributions.
The youngest member of the NDC had the opportunity to share why she became a dental technician.
"It's one of the best jobs. You learn so much. We are known for our outstanding uniforms and the job that we do," said Seaman Shana Dugan, 18, youngest NDC dental technician.
Dental techs do much more than simply cleaning teeth, explained Green.
"Without this new group of dental technicians, no instruments would be sterilized, no X-rays would be taken, no partials or dentures would be made and the equipment would not be repaired or kept up," said Green.
Today there are 2,962 Navy dental technicians serving aboard ships, with the seabees and the Fleet Marine Force, continuing the tradition of exemplary service started years ago.
"Although the faces have changed over the past 55 years, the dedication to be the best, the determination to excel and the ability to deal with adversity has continued unchanged," said Green.