From Air Force Colonel to Civilian Orthodontist: The Journey of Dr. Brandon Williams

Brandon Williams

Although his father was a dentist, Brandon Williams, DDS (DEN ’02), attended Brigham Young University in Utah on a pre-med track, and it was his roommate who convinced him to pursue a dental degree. Growing up in Colorado, CWRU appealed to him because “it felt not quite as busy as a big city,” he commented. He fondly remembers his professors Dr. Theresa Jasinevicius and Dr. Michael Landers, and appreciated the mentorship of his preceptor, Dr. Marius Laniauskas. As he prepared to sign his loan papers for his second year of dental school, another friend, Steven Black, DDS (DEN ’02), encouraged him to explore the military, and he was eventually awarded a Health Professions Scholarship that paid for his last two years of dental school and gave him a yearly stipend. Dr. Williams committed to three years of service to the United States Air Force after graduation.

Dr. Williams spent his first year in the Air Force in an AEGD program at Langley AFB in Hampton, Virginia. During this year, he was able to rotate through all the specialties and this is when he developed his interest in orthodontics. Although only two more years were required, he served almost three years practicing general dentistry at Beale AFB in Marysville, California. One of his favorite elements of practice was being able to remove wisdom teeth under IV sedation. While at Beale AFB, he made the decision to continue his career in the Air Force. He was accepted to the Tri-Service Orthodontics Program (TORP) in San Antonio, Texas at Wilford Hall Hospital located on Lackland AFB. His class consisted of three Air Force, one Navy, and two Army residents. One of the Army residents was Steve Jensen (DEN ’02), who was one of Dr. Williams’ classmates at CWRU. His training had a strong emphasis on orthognathic surgery, which Dr. Williams especially enjoyed. 

After earning his orthodontics certificate, he was assigned to Lakenheath RAF near Cambridge in the UK where he practiced orthodontics for three years. He was then reassigned to Offutt AFB in Omaha, Nebraska, where he served for four years as the sole orthodontist and mentored residents in their AEGD program. Following Offutt, he was reassigned to Travis AFB in Fairfield, California. Dr. Williams joined the staff of the Air Force’s largest military hospital where he served as dental squadron’s Clinical Flight Commander and was a member of the teaching staff for both the AEGD and the Oral Surgery residents. He also maintained a clinical orthodontic practice. Earning the rank of Colonel, he completed his last rotation and 21 years of service at Ramstein AFB in Germany where he provided orthodontic services and orthognathic surgeries to the active duty Airmen and their families.

Colonel Williams says, “serving military personnel made me feel as though I was doing something worthwhile. Many of the patients I served were unable to afford dental work as civilians and the military allowed them access to free services. Most patients were grateful and happy to see me.” He jokes that his patients considered orthodontics a “good pain.” “Helping injured veterans was always humbling to me and they were always appreciative.” Colonel Williams said his service did require him to play all the military games and complete all the training, i.e., Professional Military Education including Air War College, M-9 pistol and gas mask certification. He says, “I loved all the places I got to see, the people I got to work with, and the capability to provide the best care for my patients. I was proud to serve and wear the uniform. It was something more special than fixing teeth, and that was why I served for 21 years.”

Upon retirement, Dr. Williams, his wife, and three children moved to Utah where he is a civilian orthodontist with Platinum Dental and travels to several locations to provide services. He does lament that the cost of treatment and insurance issues prevent him from providing optimum care to some patients.

In his free time, Dr. Williams loves to travel. Living in the UK and Germany afforded him the opportunity to travel all over Europe including Jordan last year to see the ruins of Petra. He will be traveling to Peru in the fall to visit Machu Picchu, and then off to Brazil in 2025. Dr. Williams would like to thank all the professors, mentors, and staff at CWRU School of Dental Medicine for the excellent training he received that has afforded him to have such amazing experiences and a fulfilling career.