Objectives: Good oral health of soldiers would decrease the number of urgent dental interventions and absences from training and the battlefield and would improve the security of the whole formation. This study shows the habits for maintaining oral health and the oral status of the examined population in the Croatian Army.
Methods: The data were obtained from examinations and questionnaires of 912 Croatian soldiers, 650 of whom were recruits and 262 professional soldiers of the Croatian Army land forces.
Results: The results showed that the oral health of the examined population was mostly bad, as a consequence of inadequate prevention of illnesses of the oral cavity associated with insufficient oral hygiene. The most common disease was dental caries (5.84 carious teeth per recruit and 2.71 per professional). Only 14 (1.53%) of 912 examinees had completely healthy teeth. Only one-third of the examinees had no bleeding when tested with a periodontal probe. Acute pain of odontogenic origin was present for 23.5% of examinees. Such oral health makes most of the soldiers unreliable for peace operations that would last >6 months, because it lowers their combat readiness.
Conclusion: Oral hygiene and oral health are poor. Consequently, combat readiness is low because of the need for frequent dental interventions, which could further lead to absence from the field and appointed tasks. The results emphasize the need for obligatory regular check-ups to improve oral health in the Croatian Army.