The History of Dentistry in the Military

November 8, 2016

In honor of this great holiday, here are some facts and pictures illustrating the history of dentistry in the military.

  • The first dental standard: soldiers must have enough teeth to bite off the end of the cartridge so that the gun could be loaded. This dental standard lasted until World War II.

  • In 1911, the U.S. Army Dental Corps is established. This is the first armed services dental corps in the United States.

  • John Sayre Marshall, M.D. is considered the father of the U.S. Army Dental Corps as he lobbied for this organization and became the first commissioned dental corps officer.

  • In 1912, the U.S. Dental Navy Corps is established.

  • Officially, Dr. Emory Bryant is referred to as the father of the U.S. Navy Dental Corps. However, there is some controversy over who was the first dentist in the Dental Navy Corps.

  • In April 1917 (the beginning of World War I), 86 army dental officers were on active duty. In November, this number rose to 4,620!

  • For the Navy, the number expanded from 35 to over 500 during World War I.

  • Two Navy dentists were among the military casualties of the Pearl Harbor bombing on December 7, 1941.

  • The United States Army entered World War II with 2,905 dental offices. This number peaks at 15,292 in 1944!

  • For the Navy, the numbers peaked at 7,000 dental officers and 11,000 dental technicians during World War II.