The Incidence of Dental Needs during Isolated Missions Compared to Non-isolated Missions: A Systematic Review and Implications for Future Prevention Strategies

V. Lloro, V. Lozano-De Luaces, I. Lloro, M. C. Manzanares

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2018 Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. Introduction Dental emergencies in isolated groups have always been difficult to treat. Especially in people or groups who cannot be evacuated and who need urgent dental assistance: long-term submarine missions, long-term spaceship trips, military or non-governmental organizations deployments in conflict areas, military maneuvers, etc. The dental and evacuation problems could put the success of the mission at risk, with relevant associated economic and strategic costs. Our study summarizes current evidence about dental problems in isolated personnel (submarines and Antarctic missions) compared to other non-isolation conditions (military deployment in conflict area, military maneuvers) with the objective to assess the need for specific dental equipment in special long-term isolation conditions. Materials and Methods We searched Medline, Cochrane Library, and Dentalgate between 1960 and 2017 for studies reporting dental disease in long-term isolation conditions (minimum 1 month) versus non-isolation conditions. We conducted the systematic review with all studies fitting the inclusion criteria. The comparison of the incidence rate was performed fitting a Poisson regression model to see the effect of the individual's condition on the incidence of dental event. Results Thirty-eight studies were included in the systematic review. Antarctic missions showed a higher dental incidence rate compared to non-isolation conditions, but submarine missions showed the lowest dental incidence rate. In the sub-analysis of acute dental events, those with great impact on unit effectiveness, the incidence rates were higher. Caries and secondary decay events were the most prevalent dental problem in all conditions, followed by periodontal pathology and fractures of teeth or tooth problems not due to tooth decay in isolation conditions, and then by molar problems and endodontic problems in non-isolation conditions. The most common acute dental events were third molar problems and endodontic problems in all conditions. Conclusion This systematic review shows that the incidence of dental pathology in long-term isolation conditions may seem relatively infrequent but it exists and is relevant. Dental events are unpredictable, unrelated to trauma, and caused mainly by poor dental status. Preventive measures considerably reduce dental prevalence.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)E148-E155
    JournalMilitary Medicine
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


    • Dental disease
    • dental equipment
    • dental problems
    • emergency
    • evidence
    • long-term isolation


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