Aim: Professional soldiers, although trained to deal with specific conditions, are not immune to war stress induced behavioural changes, and since oral diseases are behaviour-related some changes in the oral cavity could be expected.
Participants and methods: The study was conducted on 640 professional soldiers in the Croatian Army, aged 19-49 years. The study group consisted of 336 soldiers in active service during the war in Croatia (1991-1997), while control group included 304 soldiers in peacetime service. Decayed, Missing and Filled Teeth Index (DMFT) and Community Periodontal Index (CPI) as well as questionnaires concerning dental behaviour and diet were employed.
Results: War group soldiers had significantly poorer oral health with DMFT being 14.4 in the war group and 13.1 in the controls, respectively (p < 0.001). The war group also showed a significantly higher number of periodontal pockets and excluded sextants, but lower numbers of healthy sextants (1.3 war group and 2.1 control; p < 0.001). Significant differences between the war and peacetime groups according to the number of dental visits, daily brushing frequency and diet were found. There was a tendency towards the deterioration of oral health with increase in time spent in battle fields.
Conclusion: War conditions have a significant influence on the increased prevalence and severity of oral diseases for professional soldiers.