Thousands of troops suffering from dental disease

Thousands of armed forces soldiers suffer from 'debilitating' dental disease

More than 27,000 soldiers in the British Army, Navy and Air Force require emergency dental treatment due to tooth decay or gum disease.

This is based on data recovered as part of a freedom of information request The Telegraph. Ministry of Defense figures show the number of soldiers requiring emergency treatment has increased by 5,000 in 12 months. Currently, more than 10% of the force is affected.

The problem is reportedly so serious in the military that soldiers who miss dental appointments are warned they could be jailed for not complying with orders.

“Dental health is a prerequisite for every service member prior to deployment,” said Col. Philip Ingram, a former military intelligence officer. All service members are required to have annual dental exams to ensure their dental health is in good health.

“Dental problems can have serious debilitating effects and impair a service member's ability to perform their mission. That's why dental teams are deployed to every operating room.

“National Scandal”

The BDA has previously branded the state of oral health within the Armed Forces a “national scandal. “When our troops are incapacitated, dental problems trump enemy actions,” the association warned.

One concern about dental disease in the armed forces is that troops are unable to perform at their best when in pain. However, the powerful painkillers used to suppress toothaches may also be incompatible with combat.

A study in british dental journal “Oral disease can cause serious disruptions to service members, causing them to be debilitated and less effective during military operations,” said.

Previous research has shown that the prevalence of dental disease among armed forces personnel is higher than in the general population. Research suggests this may be because many soldiers come from disadvantaged backgrounds and have poor eating habits.

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