ROYAL AIR FORCE DENTAL BRANCH
The Royal Air Force Dental Branch was formed on the 1st July 1930 following a request to create a separate dental service to provide oral healthcare to the RAF. This page is set up to raise the funds required to install a memorial stone at the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire, with the aim to unveil it at the RAF Dental Branch 90th anniversary event on 1 July 2020. The final cost of the memorial is still to be confirmed but will be in the region of £9000+VAT with additional respective application and maintenance costs of £3500. The design of the stone has been inspired by a competition in 2018 and we will be able to share photographs of the proposed design very soon. The size of the stone will depend on what money we can raise.
This is a large sum of money and will require all RAF Dental Branch members, past and present, to donate and/or fundraise to achieve the target. If successful we will have a fitting memorial to commemorate all those who have dedicated their service to the RAF Dental Branch. We would like your assistance in fundraising throughout 2019 as individuals and dental teams to raise the funds.
If you would like more information or advice on how to fundraise for this project, please contact the ProjO at [email protected]
History of the RAF Dental Branch
The RAF Dental Branch initially consisted of 27 Dental Officers, 2 civilian dental surgeons, 27 Orderlies (Dental Nurses) and 5 Mechanics (Dental Technicians).
Dental care delivery was originally under the direction of the RAF’s Director of Medical Services. Delivery remained under the jurisdiction of the single Service, led by the RAF’s Chief Dental Officer, subsequently the Director of Dental Services, until the formation of the Defence Dental Agency in 1996. This change saw the administration of military dental healthcare become tri-Service. Dental Branch personnel currently treat patients from all 3 Services for the Defence Medical Services as part of Defence Primary Healthcare.
At its peak in July 1945, the Dental Branch comprised of over 2,000 people (including 878 Reservist Dental Officers), having grown from 122 uniformed personnel in September 1939.
In addition to providing care to personnel in the Firm Base, RAF Dental Branch personnel have been based across the globe in support of military forces and their families. Whilst many of the bases in the Middle East, Far East, Africa and Europe have now closed, the Branch retains an international presence in Cyprus, Brunei and the Falkland Islands.
Support to operations has been consistently provided since the Second World War. In addition to making Service personnel dentally fit to deploy, the Branch has delivered care in austere environments – most recently for conflicts in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
RAF Halton has been closely associated with RAF dentistry and is considered the spiritual home of the Branch. In 1930, Dental Officers received basic Service training at the Medical Training Establishment and Depot at RAF Halton, which also housed one of the 3 main dental centres. Training of Dental Orderlies was relocated from Halton to Sidmouth during World War II but returned in 1945, becoming the Dental Training Establishment in 1951. The RAF Institute of Dental Health and Training, which saw the consolidation of dental training for nurses, hygienists and technicians at Halton, in addition to housing clinical advisers, was born in 1976. The Institute existed until the formation of the Defence Dental Agency in 1996, when training became tri-Service.
The RAF Dental Branch has played an important part in the development of the dental profession throughout its history. Most notably, the Branch led the establishment and widespread employment of the Dental Hygienist in the UK. Identifying the importance of good oral health to maintain the dental fitness levels of RAF personnel, the Air Ministry approved the trade in late 1942, with the School for Dental Hygienists being opening in January 1943 at Glenside, Sidmouth.
Forensic dentistry, particularly dental identification, has also featured prominently in the Branch’s history. From 1968 a Dental Officer deployed with the RAF Pathology Team to fatal aircraft incidents. More recently, Dental Branch personnel were part of the identification teams for the Lockerbie bombing, the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, as well as playing a major role in establishing the tri-Service Dental Identification Team, which supported the identification of military personnel killed in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Today, Dental Officers and Dental Nurses of the RAF Dental Branch continue to provide high quality dental care to patients in the UK and overseas as part of Whole Force dental teams.