Dental Treatment on the Western Front during WWI

Research Paper Title

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


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 The result was that men were being withdrawn from the front for treatment at base hospitals.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.


Gray, F.S.S. (2017) The first dentists sent to the Western Front during the First World War. British Dental Journal. 222(11):893-897. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2017.503.


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