MPs call for action on oral health of British Army

‘A matter of urgency’: The news that nearly 30,000 British Army soldiers are awaiting dental care has sparked MP concern.

This comes as data from the Ministry of Defence revealed more than 27,000 troops across the British army, navy and air force need urgent dental treatment for rotten teeth or gum disease.

Last December, some 12,300 soldiers needed treatment for a large cavity, gum disease or a wisdom tooth causing decay.

In addition, the number of troops needing urgent treatment has increased by 5,000 in 12 months, with more than 10% of all troops are now affected.

Soldiers who miss dental appointments have reportedly been warned that they could be jailed for failing to follow orders as the problem is so severe.

The British Dental Association (BDA) has previously dubbed the state of oral health within the armed forces a ‘national scandal’.

As a result, MPs have called for action to prevent damage to morale.

Impacting morale

Sarah Atherton is former Conservative defence minister and a former nurse and social worker who served in the Intelligence Corps. She said: ‘On the face of it these statistics do not give reassurance that dental care provision is being effectively delivered throughout our armed forces.

‘It’s issues like this that affects the morale of our service personnel and the Military Dental Service and the poor oral health of some of our service personnel should be addressed as a matter of urgency.’

Labour’s shadow armed forces minister, Luke Pollard, also said: ‘Nearly 30,000 personnel waiting for dental treatment is the latest example of how the Conservatives have failed our forces over the last 14 years.

‘The last 14 Conservative years have corroded the nation’s contract with those who serve.’

In response, a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: ‘We care deeply about our personnel and all service personnel are provided with regular and free access to dental care, including 24/7 emergency care and online tailored oral health advice.’

She also said that the ministerial department has ‘increased dental screening for service personnel to improve dental fitness’ which has resulted in ‘higher levels of treatments being reported’.

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