Oral health disparities in the Royal Netherlands Armed Forces

This article was originally published here

Mil Med. 2022 Jan 19: usab569. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usab569. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: In the military, good oral health is essential to combat readiness. The Royal Netherlands Armed Forces (RNAF) Dental Service is responsible for providing high quality dental care to soldiers to ensure that commanders can deploy dentally healthy troops. Inequalities in oral health are associated with lower socioeconomic status. Rank reflects social status within the military hierarchy. The purpose of this study was to analyze differences in the oral health status of RNAF personnel based on ranks and other determinants.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: All RNAF personnel who underwent regular dental inspection between January 15, 2018 and February 2, 2018 were enrolled. The index of decayed, missing and filled permanent teeth (DMFT), the Dutch Periodontal Screening Index and the Simplified Oral Hygiene Index (OHI-S) were used to assess their oral health. Dental aptitude was categorized. The patients were asked about their smoking behavior and the perception of their oral health. The personnel were divided into the following three groups according to rank: officers, non-commissioned officers (non-commissioned officers), and enlisted ranks.

RESULTS: Nine hundred and eighty-four RNAF soldiers were included in this study. Enlisted ranks had significantly higher DMFT and OHI-S scores than officers and NCOs (both P

CONCLUSIONS: Lower-ranked service members are more frequently classified as dentally undeployable than officers and non-commissioned officers due to oral health issues. This is important when considering the allocation of dental resources to maximize the pool of deployable personnel.

PMID:35043185 | DOI: 10.1093/milmed/usab569