CAMP ZAMA, Japan – It was a novel experience to see the latest dental technology being used in the U.S. military, including intra-oral scan, chairside economical restoration of esthetic ceramics, computer aided design/computer aided manufacturing technology, and even a 3-D printer during bilateral training here in November.
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force dental personnel were able to try out some of the equipment. Most Japanese dentists have never seen this type of equipment in a clinic. It was interesting to see the U.S. introduce innovative dental technology to other countries.
Compared to our JGSDF dental clinics, some U.S. military dental clinics can provide orthodontic treatment to soldiers, and even their family members.
It was surprising to hear how competitive it is to be admitted to American dental schools these days. According to Dr. (Capt.) T. Ryan Shealy, a U.S. Army dentist assigned to Dental Health Command-Pacific, only 120 students were admitted out of 3,000 applicants the year he applied.
In addition to clinical demonstrations, having conversations in English with the American personnel was a fun and fruitful opportunity, especially since we don’t have many chances to speak English in Japan. Despite making some grammatical mistakes, I noticed that everyone was enthusiastic talking with us and made an effort to understand everything we said in English.
Such a pleasant experience really motivated us to learn and speak more English.
We also had conversations about differences in treatment protocols. We had a discussion with Shealy, who will specialize in oral and maxillofacial surgery, about the use of antibiotics, analgesia, and sutures.
Japanese treatment usually includes prescribing penicillin after a tooth extraction in order to prevent post-operative infections. However, at DENTAC-Japan, antibiotics are seldom prescribed after extractions, and only if appropriate due to the risk of increasing antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
At the Sagamihara Depot Training Support Center, I had my first experience holding a handgun; even though it was at a virtual range, it was an interesting experience.
We also saw mannequins that featured simulated wounds, used for training medics how to manage combat trauma. They are state of the art, and can simulate breathing, bleeding, and movement.
The joint physical training session between the American and Japanese forces in the early morning of the second day was a great and fun way to start the morning. The U.S. military conducts PT in the early morning, since the first patient arrives at the clinic at 7:30 a.m. Introducing early-morning PT in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces would be a good way to promote better health for the individual.
1st Lt. Ryunosuke Seki is a dentist with the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force; this article was originally published in the JGSDF Newsletter.