May 18, 1916 (12th Parliament, 6th Session)


Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)


I had a memorandum handed to me at my request by the Director General of the Dental Service of the Canadian Expeditionary Force which I thought would be of some interest to the members of the House. I believe that Canada is the second nation in the world which has adopted the proposal to establish such a service. According to this report, Germany first established such an organization in connection with her army and Canada was the first to follow in that regard. The memorandum is as follows:
Report on Canadian Army Dental Corps.
Organized less than a year ago, without precedent to guide its footsteps, and with a total at that time of 57, this organization has now grown to practically one thousand all told. So great and various are its ramifications today that, in that short time the need for its existence has been amply demonstrated. Its clinics ' and laboratories extend all the way from Vancouver Island on the West, all over the Dominion of Canada to Bermuda across the seas to Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt, to Salonika in Greece over France and Belgium wherever Canadian troops are to be found and also in England wherever Canadian troops are stationed.
Its officers and men'are found not only with the various regiments but hospitals, field ambulances, ammunition columns, C.A.S.C., and all other units, are provided for as fast as men can be despatched and accommodated for these various units.
To provide men, equipment, supplies and administrative operation for a field geographically as large as the one over which our services extend, and at the same time perform nearly one half million operations of a dental nature, is a task of which any corps might be proud.
The number of operations performed may or may not be an index to the value of services * rendered, but the supreme test is efficiency ; and to be able to say without fear of contradiction that the efficiency of a man or a battalion is

greater as a result of these services is what is demanded. , Tried by this exacting standard, what do we find? We find that over 50,000 men now doing splendid service for their country and Empire owe their presence there to-day to the services rendered by the Canadian Army Dental. Corps.
In addition jto this there is the huge task of keeping fit, dentally, men who are already in the service and are constantly needing attention. Over 10 per cent of an army are unfit for active service ail the time owing to dental troubles, and the economic loss thus entailed in an army of only 100,000 men is tremendous, for here you would have an army of 10,000 out of action all the time on account of these very troubles.
A service that can reduce this to the irreducible minimum and keep these men in the trenches with the least possible loss in time and expense, consistent with efficiciency is doing a very real service.
Experience is teaching us that the nearer we can place our operators to the front with the greater despatch can we carry out all ordinary operations, thus saving many days loss which is occasioned by not allowing our officers up close to the firing line. They can in many cases be accomplished with two days' loss what under the present method entails from ten days to two weeks absence of the soldier from his post. This is a very vital matter for it is most important that a highly trained man whose services are valuable, shall be kept in service with the least possible loss of time.
Nothing so soon unfits a man for service as tooth troubles and nothing is more sensitive to trench life if trouble exist, than the teeth; and as a consequence the morale of troops is barometrically high or low in proportion to the state of their teeth.
Under a new establishment the C.A.D.C. will now have the services of a purely scientific dental officer whose whole time will be devoted to scientific research work which our experience has convinced us is necessary.
That part of the service whose duty it is and will be for years to come, to care for, and make fit dentally the soldiers of the casualty branch has an important service to perform.
Here, highly skilled and efficient dental surgeons of experience are needed, and more inducement in the way of rank is needed that the service become sufficiently attractive to this type- of practitioner. We are doing the best we can at present, but are not able to do the service we would like as we lack the experienced men.
The Canadian Army Dental Corps has many shortcomings and has made mistakes; but who hasn't in this war?
The Germans in this as in other matters saw the necessity and prudence of organizing and equipping every unit of energy making for efficiency and not least on their list is their army dental corps. [DOT]
We are not the first in the field, but are a close second and will we hope at the close of the war demonstrate our right to the first position from an humanitarian point of view.
(Sgd.) N. B. Clayton, Major,
Director General Dental Services.

Full View