the early years of the war for a soldier to have a dental appointment at 2300 hours
(11:00 p.m.) or even at 0300 hours (3:00 a.m.).
f. As the Army expanded in World War II, concepts of dental care changed.
Before this time, the small standing Army was composed almost entirely or Regular
Army personnel. Once these men were given the dental treatment they needed, it was
not difficult to maintain them in good dental health. Then, too, dental standards for entry
on active duty were high. To pass his entrance physical examination, a man had to
have at least three pairs of opposing anterior teeth and three pairs of opposing posterior
teeth, disease-free and in reasonable occlusion. It soon became apparent that about
ten percent of available manpower was disqualified for dental reasons alone. Dental
standards were reduced. (Today, a person is dentally acceptable if he has an upper
and lower jaw in reasonable relationship.) Correcting dental problems became a
tremendous job for the DC. That task was further complicated by the fact that many
new personnel entered the Army each year. Because of the enormous dental workload,
a priority system of dental classification of personnel was established which would
provide dental treatment based on the needs of the Army.
g. During the Vietnam conflict, a dental combat effectiveness program was
established as selected advanced individual training centers in the US to reduce the
number of dental casualties. The objective of the program was to treat conditions
having a high probability of causing a dental emergency within the next 12 to 18 months
and, at the same time, to interfere as little as possible with training. It was selective
treatment to solve a specific problem.
(1) Statistics showed that one soldier out of eight became a dental casualty
at some time during his tour of duty in the Republic of Vietnam. A man evacuated for
treatment of a dental emergency could be lost to his unit from 2 to 7 days. He was just
as surely a casualty to his unit as if he had to be evacuated as the result of hostile
(2) By detecting and treating those conditions that might cause dental
emergencies before soldiers went overseas, the number of dental emergencies was
3-13. PROBLEMS OF DENTAL CARE IN WORLD WAR II AND THEIR SOLUTIONS
a. Problems. During World War II, one of the chief complaints of soldiers in
Europe, according to a tabulation made at General Eisenhower's request from letters
sent home, was that dental care was inadequate. Though the number of dentists
seemed to be sufficient, their utilization and the organization for dental support was
ineffective. In addition, dental officers were provided with primitive equipment. In the
post-war period, a committee was formed to evaluate and reorganize dental support.
In order to provide the essential dental care in a theater of operations, four basic
problems had to be solved.