This is why the military wants troops to remove their wisdom teeth

Ruddy Cano
Updated onApr 27, 2023 11:23 AM PDT
3 minute read
wisdom teeth

Col. Richard Asami, 70, a staff dentist for the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division, cleans the teeth of Sgt. 1st Class Denise White-Phillips, the S-3 NCOIC for the 408th Personnel Service Battalion, at the Camp Adder dental clinic, May 9, 2006. (U.S. Army photo)


It is not surprising to encounter troops without wisdom teeth during their boot camp. This is a common practice where…

It is not surprising to encounter troops without wisdom teeth during their boot camp. This is a common practice where each situation is diverse, but the reasons are normally similar. Some days are scheduled in recruit training where the recruits' teeth are assessed and any dental procedures conducted. Still, not every military troop will have their wisdom teeth removed. 

If the military dentist believes that a future issue may not occur, they will not conduct the process. However, if the military dentist is convinced that the wisdom teeth might pose a great threat in the future, they take the next step and remove them. Marine Corps usually insists that every marine should have their wisdom teeth removed while still fresh recruits to ensure no interruption when training.

Here is why the military wants troops to remove their wisdom teeth

Third Molar Associated Morbidity

The rates of disease and non-battle injury (DNBI) have increased during combat stages of military deployment. Third molar-associated morbidity is a common cause of DNBI in several military troops deployed in different places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Military dental services have noted this problem and tried lowering DNBI to decrease suffering and increase operational efficiency. 

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael S. Lockett/Released)

Certainly, it is crucial to note that dental facilities will not constantly be nearby to areas of operations because it leads to time loss in key military roles and poses a significant risk when seeking access to medical or dental care. Common issues related to third molar-associated morbidity include infection, swollen and painful gums, possible damaged jawbone and nerves. 

The dental team in the military offers the safest and most comfortable extraction process, which includes seven steps. It begins with sedation followed by general or local anesthesia then a cut is made in the gum tissue. The bone that restricts access to the tooth root is eliminated, and the wisdom tooth extracted. After the site where the tooth was removed is cleaned, the wound is sewn close to enhance healing though it is not always compulsory. 

Lastly, a gauze is positioned over the site to regulate bleeding and assist a blood clot in forming. After the wisdom teeth removal, the military dentists can assess the state of your condition and guide you on the most suitable and effective schedule for fruitful treatment and healing. 

(Photo by U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Jermaine Jackson)

Dental Health in the Military

Military dentists insist that dental health is a major component of the troops' readiness in all units by all standards. It is estimated that approximately one in five non-battlefield wounds reported by deployed service associates are linked with dental issues. Also, the risk of dental problems increases for those service members who do not keep up with their routine dental check-ups. 

There is a significant deal of concern for the risk of painful and acute teeth issues that would interfere with the soldier's well-being by making it challenging to focus entirely on their mission because they need rapid dental treatment

From a broader perspective, oral health is imperative for your entire body since a lack of excellent oral health can result in bacterial infections or other conditions that may be severe and interfere with the troops' readiness and mission competencies. 

Military dentists are highly responsible for reducing dental emergencies and immediate care needs during deployment. Indeed, there are also routine dental screenings before deployments to ensure that the troops are at their best and will not experience any nasty dental problems, thus reducing dental emergencies. Moreover, preventive oral healthcare is imperative for ensuring the military troops experience the best health.


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