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Dentists’ drills on the move

Dental hygienist SGT Jany Skeates does a scale and clean with assistance from LACW Michaela Chant.

Dental hygienist SGT Jany Skeates does a scale and clean with assistance from LACW Michaela Chant.

Photo by FLTLT Christine Bradley

A FULLY operational dental surgery with drills, chairs, lights and sterilisers is not the first thing you might expect to see when walking into a tent.

However, members of No. 23 (City of Brisbane) Squadron were greeted by that when the No. 1 Air Transportable Health Squadron Field Deployable Dental Unit deployed with them from RAAF Base Amberley to the Wide Bay training area for Exercise Dauntless.

Keeping the force “biting fi t” was part of a normal day for the dental staff, who treated dental casualties and brought the level of individual readiness up with annual dental assessments.

The deployment was also the culmination of many months of preparation and training by the dental staff at 1ATHS as it formed the fi nal phase of test and evaluation for the Field Portable Dental Unit, which is now ready for its operational role.

“This exercise highlights the importance of dentistry in maintaining a fi ghting force and also the part that the 1ATHS fi eld dental unit plays as part of the Air Force’s overall expeditionary health capability,” Wing Commander Bryan Dubbeldam, Air Force Dental sponsor, said.

Taking dentistry into the fi eld was a rewarding and educational experience for the team.

Dental assistant Leading Aircraftwoman Diane Beningfi eld said it was great to have hands-on experience.

“We also learnt a lot about how to manage things, like keeping dust out of the equipment and working around the limits of fi eld power supplies,” LACW Beningfi eld said.

The dental team was one of the fi rst units to deploy using the new Adec deployable dental equipment.

Co-developed with Defence, the new delivery system and suction units not only provide the same standard of care as a normal dental surgery but are more robust, resistant to dust, easily transportable and provide a high level of commonality with the existing units within Defence facilities.

Amberley’s Senior Dental Offi cer, FLTLT Christine Bradley, hoped to build on the experience of Exercise Dauntless “and put together a regular cycle of training and deployments so that we maintain the deployable dental capability”.


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