The New Zealand Dental Services
When the time came for men to be discharged from the Navy, the same obligation was undertaken by the Government as with the other two services. The dental condition was to be no worse than it was on entry into the service. The instructions were as follows:
Members of the Royal New Zealand Navy will be made ‘dentally fit’ before release but where a member, on being discharged, has been certified dentally fit within a maximum of six months prior to discharge, this certificate will be accepted for the purpose of dental clearance. No extractions necessitating the provision of artificial dentures will be performed for any member due or liable for discharge at short notice unless the member signs a witnessed declaration that he or she requests extractions and agrees to the insertion of immediate dentures and that the cost of any remake will not be sought from public funds.
Where it is possible to anticipate discharge, endeavours will be made to render the officer or rating dentally fit at an early date in order that ultimate discharge will not be unnecessarily delayed.
As far as the Navy was concerned this was lip service, as the dental service as constituted could not keep abreast of the work already presenting, let alone organise a drive for complete dental fitness before discharge. The watertight compartments into which the Navy confined its dental units were a sufficient barrier to the natural flow of dental reinforcements to cope with such an emergency. Before actual discharge everybody was examined and the necessary treatment was authorised by the Dental Division of the Department of Health to be carried out by civilian dentists, as was the case with the other services. The Government's obligation was fulfilled, but the Navy dental organisation was unable to play the same part in this as did the NZDC for the other two services.