Services to the Armed Forces is an important arm of the trinity of medical
services, namely medical, dental and nursing under the overall command of
Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services.
Army Dental Corps, the mother body
of dental services for Army, Navy and Air Force, provides state-of-the-art
dental services to the service personnel and their families and also to
the ex-servicemen and their dependents.
Regular dental service for the
Indian soldiers came into being in 1941, long after the formation of Army
Dental Corps for the British troops. Before that, many an Indian soldier
were invalidated out of service due to bad gums and teeth and inability to
chew field rations.
It was only at the beginning of the
World War-II, when crash recruitment of Indians took place, that eight
Indian civilian dental surgeons were commissioned in the newly created
dental wing of the Indian Medical Service–IMS(D). The work done by these
officers and immediate steep rise in the demand for dental treatment from
the Indian troops established the necessity for a regular dental service
for the Indian Armed Forces. A rapid expansion took place in due course
and the number of dental officers rose sharply leading to the formation in
1943 of a separate Corps designated Indian Army Dental Corps. The prefix
‘Indian’ was later dropped and on January 26, 1950, the Corps was
rechristened Army Dental Corps.
During World War-II, independent
mobile dental units with portable equipment were sent to many theatres of
war all over the world. This practice continued whenever the country has
been forced to take up arms against the aggressors.
Officers and men of the corps have
also been rushed abroad at the request of the United Nations and
individual countries. Some of these assignments since independence have
been to Korea, Cango, Oman, Botswana, Zambia, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Sierra
Leone, Somalia, Cambodia, Lebanon, Ethiopia-Eritrea and Maldives. Members
of the corps have demonstrated great valour on many occasions and wielded
weapons to safeguard life of their own and that of others.
Army dental teams periodically visit
Nepal for the benefit of Gurkhas. Regularly officers of the corps
organise dental camps in remote areas where they render free treatment to
The aim of Army Dental Corps is to
keep jawans, sailors and airmen 'biting fit'. To achieve this aim, a chain
of dental units have been functioning from mountain-tops of Ladakh to
Thiruvananthapuram in the South and from Mumbai to easternpoint of India
on the India-Burma border. Dental inspections and treatment are regularly
carried out in forward bunkers and trenches, on snowy peaks, onboard the
ships and in aircraft hangars.
The scope of treatment is vast,
ranging from treatment of gum diseases, restoring teeth, artficial
dentures, implants, metal bridges, to reconstructive surgeries of the
facial region. Dental diseases among flying personnel and submariners pose
certain problems which at times affect their performance. These are
tackled effectively by the Dental Officers specially trained by Navy and
The multispeciality dental
institutions of defence forces like Naval Institute of Dental Sciences,
Air Force Insititute of Dental Sciences and Command Military Dental
Centres are today comparable to the best dental hospitals in the country.
The elite Army Dental Centre (Research and Referral) raised on May 1, 1999
provides specialised care to soldiers who sustain injuries in the enemy
action and terrorist activities in the border areas. Armed Forces Dental
Clinic in New Delhi is the most advanced multispeciality dental centre. It
is one of the biggest dental establishments in the country with 14 Dental
Officers and Dental Hygienist on its roll. It is equipped with an
implantology centre providing implant to the troops and their dependents,
free of cost.
Department of Dental Surgery at Armed Forces Medical
College, Pune imparts advanced professional training to dental officers
and basic training to dental ancillary staff. Post- graduate courses in
prosthodontics, oral surgery, orthodontics and periodontics are conducted
at this institution under the aegis of Mumbai University. In addition, a
number of Dental Officers and ancillary staff from the Armed Forces of
Indonesia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sudan, Bhutan and Nepal have also been
trained here. An outstanding feature of the Army Dental Corps is its
activity in the field of dental research. A number of materials like bone
plates and dental implants have also been developed to save valuable
Lt Col BMR Mehta