Story: Dental care

Wartime dentistry: Military tooth-brushing, 1917 (1st of 3)

Wartime dentistry: Military tooth-brushing, 1917

New Zealand soldiers brush their teeth at what was called 'the prophylactic bench' before visiting a Defence Force dental surgery, in France in November 1917. The New Zealand Dental Association had lobbied the Defence Force to set up dental-health care for the troops, and the New Zealand Dental Corps was established in November 1915. Dental officers inspected the teeth of prospective soldiers in mobilisation camps, and  accompanied troops when they were mobilised overseas. A dental hospital was set up only 5 kilometres from the front line on the Somme in September 1916. Dentists treated outbreaks of 'trench mouth' (a painful gum infection) as well as doing fillings and extractions, sometimes under fire. 

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association Collection
Reference: 1/2-012972-G
Photograph by Henry Armytage Sanders

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Andrew Schmidt and Susan Moffat, 'Dental care - Wartime and state-supported dental care', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/30586/wartime-dentistry-military-tooth-brushing-1917 (accessed 2 October 2020)

Story by Andrew Schmidt and Susan Moffat, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 6 Nov 2018