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A day in the life of a dental lab technician

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Jonathon Stambaugh, 21st Dental Squadron dental lab technician, works on creating porcelain teeth at the Area Dental Lab, April 8, 2015. The ADL is one of three Department of Defense labs that provide fixed dental works along with removable dental works and services Department of Defense bases around the world. The other two ADLs are in Ramstein AB, Germany, and Kadena AB, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Jonathon Stambaugh, 21st Dental Squadron dental lab technician, works on creating porcelain teeth at the Area Dental Lab, April 8, 2015. The ADL is one of three Department of Defense labs that provide fixed dental works along with removable dental works and services Department of Defense bases around the world. The other two ADLs are in Ramstein AB, Germany, and Kadena AB, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Jonathon Stambaugh, 21st Dental Squadron dental lab technician, works on creating porcelain teeth at the Area Dental Lab, April 8, 2015. The ADL is one of three Department of Defense labs that provide fixed dental works along with removable dental works and services Department of Defense bases around the world. The other two ADLs are in Ramstein AB, Germany, and Kadena AB, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Jonathon Stambaugh, 21st Dental Squadron dental lab technician, works on creating porcelain teeth at the Area Dental Lab, April 8, 2015. The ADL is one of three Department of Defense labs that provide fixed dental works along with removable dental works and services Department of Defense bases around the world. The other two ADLs are in Ramstein AB, Germany, and Kadena AB, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Jonathon Stambaugh, 21st Dental Squadron dental lab technician, creates porcelain teeth at the Area Dental Lab, April 8, 2015. The ADL is one of three Department of Defense labs that provide fixed dental works along with removable dental works and services Department of Defense bases around the world. The other two ADLs are in Ramstein AB, Germany, and Kadena AB, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Jonathon Stambaugh, 21st Dental Squadron dental lab technician, creates porcelain teeth at the Area Dental Lab, April 8, 2015. The ADL is one of three Department of Defense labs that provide fixed dental works along with removable dental works and services Department of Defense bases around the world. The other two ADLs are in Ramstein AB, Germany, and Kadena AB, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Jonathon Stambaugh, 21st Dental Squadron dental lab technician, uses a mold to create porcelain teeth at the Area Dental Lab, April 8, 2015. The ADL is one of three Department of Defense labs that provide fixed dental works along with removable dental works and services Department of Defense bases around the world. The other two ADLs are in Ramstein AB, Germany, and Kadena AB, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Jonathon Stambaugh, 21st Dental Squadron dental lab technician, uses a mold to create porcelain teeth at the Area Dental Lab, April 8, 2015. The ADL is one of three Department of Defense labs that provide fixed dental works along with removable dental works and services Department of Defense bases around the world. The other two ADLs are in Ramstein AB, Germany, and Kadena AB, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Jonathon Stambaugh, 21st Dental Squadron dental lab technician, creates fixed dental works at the Area Dental Lab. From Palmdale, Calif., Strambaugh has been at the Peterson AFB ADL for approximately two and a half years and is working on a Biology degree at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs toward becoming a dentist. The ADL is one of three Department of Defense labs that provide fixed dental works along with removable dental works and services Department of Defense bases around the world. The other two ADLs are in Ramstein AB, Germany, and Kadena AB, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Senior Airman Jonathon Stambaugh, 21st Dental Squadron dental lab technician, creates fixed dental works at the Area Dental Lab. From Palmdale, Calif., Strambaugh has been at the Peterson AFB ADL for approximately two and a half years and is working on a Biology degree at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs toward becoming a dentist. The ADL is one of three Department of Defense labs that provide fixed dental works along with removable dental works and services Department of Defense bases around the world. The other two ADLs are in Ramstein AB, Germany, and Kadena AB, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Dental lab technicians work on numerous dental work orders from other Department of Defense bases at the Area Dental Lab, April 8, 2015. The ADL is one of three Department of Defense labs that provide fixed dental works along with removable dental works and services Department of Defense bases around the world. The other two ADLs are in Ramstein AB, Germany, and Kadena AB, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Dental lab technicians work on numerous dental work orders from other Department of Defense bases at the Area Dental Lab, April 8, 2015. The ADL is one of three Department of Defense labs that provide fixed dental works along with removable dental works and services Department of Defense bases around the world. The other two ADLs are in Ramstein AB, Germany, and Kadena AB, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Dentures, crowns and night guards are just some of the unusual products made at the Peterson Area Dental Lab for personnel worldwide.

Senior Airman Jonathon Stambaugh has been a lab technician for the ADL for more than two years, working on crowns along with other projects. He also trains and assists with advanced laser welding techniques, facilitates the Dental Airman Helping Airman program, and coordinates volunteer projects and professional development.

Creating the crowns can be a time-consuming process.

To begin, Stambaugh receives a case and a mold requesting a crown or multiple crowns. He then creates a tooth out of wax. It will then get coated with a hard clay-like material and baked until all the wax melts out. The hard casing will then get coated in gold with possibly a porcelain coat on top of that to match the natural tooth color.

"The process sounds pretty easy but there are a lot of little steps in between to make the tooth fit well and look great," said Stambaugh. "Depending on the project, one crown will take approximately an entire day versus a case needing ten teeth may take close to two weeks."

Stambaugh joined the Air Force to go back to school and is currently studying biology at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.

"I want to be a dentist someday down the road, and dental school is partially like dental lab technical school, so this job experience sets me up for success in that," said Stambaugh.

On top of school and his normal case load he has also been entrusted with the Air Force's largest register of precious metals and alloys, and also augments the ADLs shipping and receiving department that tracks all the incoming and outgoing case work, said Senior Master Sgt. Leticia Johnson, ADL superintendent.

"Senior Airman Stambaugh has proven to not only be a great laboratory technician but a superb future leader and non-commissioned officer," said Johnson. "The best part of Stambaugh is his infectious can-do attitude and willingness to provide nothing but his best."

The technicians work on anything from removable to fixed works. Types of removable pieces are dentures, night guards and other pieces that can be removed on a daily basis. Fixed works cannot be removed, for example, crowns.

The Peterson Area Dental Lab is the largest of three ADLs, servicing more than 550 dentists at 121 facilities worldwide, with 53 active-duty and 19 civilian or contract technicians to work the incoming cases. The other two ADLs are at Kadena AB, Japan, and Ramstein AB, Germany.

Team Pete not only has the ADL but its own dental lab in the dental clinic. The technicians in both labs perform almost the same duties except the ADL's customers are from outside the base and the base lab's customers come from down the hall.

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