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The first dentists sent to the Western Front during the First World War

Key Points

  • Provides an overview of dentistry on the Western Front during the First World War.

  • Provides an overview of dental units during the First World War.

  • Provides biographical information regarding the first dentists, serving in a professional capacity at the Western Front.

Abstract

At the outbreak of the First World War there was insufficient dental provision for serving military personnel. No army dental specialists were available overseas when the troops joined the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). However, the pain of toothache together with the ensuing limited mastication was debilitating and demoralising for the British soldiers. The result was that men were being withdrawn from the front for treatment at base hospitals. This was limited to extractions by medical officers, which frequently incurred unnecessary loss of dentition when restorative work would have been preferable. Other consequences of dental neglect were indigestion and malnutrition. Additionally, the painful condition of acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis, then commonly referred to as 'trench mouth', was prevalent.

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Correspondence to F. S. S. Gray.

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Gray, F. The first dentists sent to the Western Front during the First World War. Br Dent J 222, 893–897 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.2017.503

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