The Dental Corps
Dental services has long played a vital role in Canadian military operations through mitigation of death and suffering.
To help ensure operational readiness, effectiveness and deployability, the CFDS has provided comprehensive dental support during military operations and for garrisoned units for over a hundred years. The history of the Dental Service began in 1904 with authorization of a contingent of 18 dental surgeons in the Army Medical Corps.
In 1915 the first dedicated military dental service was authorized as the Canadian Army Dental Corps. In 1939 they became the Canadian Dental Corps, and in 1947, they became the Royal Canadian Dental Corps. In 1970 they acquired their current status as the Canadian Forces Dental Services (CFDS).
Operational readiness, effectiveness and deployability: The primary mission of the Dental Corps is to maintain the dental health of soldiers at an optimum level to ensure their readiness to deploy and fight. During a typical operation, as many as one quarter of all soldiers will report on dental sick call during a one-year deployment, costing a division a significant number of man-days of combat effectiveness in a theatre of battle. A majority of these conditions could be prevented if they were identified early.
The annual dental exam presently required of all military personnel is a far cry from the sole requirement in the 17 Century. Back then a set of healthy bicuspids was required in order to bite off the top of the paper cartridge of a muzzle-loading musket. Technology has played a role in the success of the CFDS as evidenced by the truck-mounted mobile dental clinics in use today. These are fully functional dental clinics, capable of treating all but the most serious cases.