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Dental Officer

OFFICER | Full Time, Part Time


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Overview

Dental Officers practice preventive dentistry and dental treatment for oral diseases, injuries, and defects of the teeth and their supporting structures. 

As commissioned members of the Royal Canadian Dental Corps, Dental Officers’ primary duty is to practice dentistry in the military setting. They may also be asked to assist other health care professionals when particular skills are required, and to teach subjects in which they have received specialized training.

Work environment

Dental Officers may be posted to a base in Canada or deployed on operations around the world. They work in a fully equipped dental office, which may be in temporary facilities, in a semi-industrial setting or on a ship at sea.

Normally, Dental Officers spend their first four years in a dental clinic in Canada. Initially, they work in a group practice; after a year or two of experience, they could go to a small one-dentist clinic or could be attached to a Field unit.

Career Overview

Transcript

TITLE:

DENTAL OFFICER

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

MAJOR GENEVIÈVE POITRAS: I’m Major Geneviève Poitras from Bathurst, New Brunswick – a Dental Officer at Canadian Forces Health Services Group Headquarters, in Ottawa.

Dental Officers provide care to military patients across Canada, and on deployments and exercises around the world. They serve members of all occupations and work in clinical settings, on naval warships or in mobile dental clinics. On base, Dental Officers see their patients in some of the best-equipped clinics in the country, with state-of-the-art equipment. They work in teams alongside other dentists, dental specialists, hygienists and dental technicians, as well as dedicated support personnel who take care of all the scheduling and paperwork.

POITRAS: One of the huge benefits to being a dentist in the Canadian Forces is – the treatment plan that you devise for your patient, you don’t have to worry about whether the patient can afford it or not. The patient gets the absolute best care.

At home here in Canada, Dental Officers can usually expect to work normal weekday office hours, with regular on-call duties to address dental emergencies at night or on the weekend.  

POITRAS: A regular day-to-day for a dentist in the military is: you come in and, typically, for the first hour you see what we call ‘sick parade’, which are your dental emergencies. After that, you’ll see booked appointments, you’ll see exams, you’ll see restorative, you can do surgery – all scopes of general dentistry.

Dental Officers may also be called upon to provide clinical support to other bases and travel periodically.  Military exercises and deployments up to several months out of country in a theatre of operations are also an important part of the job.

There are other opportunities within the military realm, including training in disaster victim identification.

POITRAS: I’m the deputy team lead for the Canadian Forces Forensic Odontology Response Team. We can be called upon at any time to aid in disaster victim identification through dental remains. We have what we call annual collective training, and this where we bring the team together and we use the software that we’re going to deploy with – we practise taking x-rays, we practise taking proper pictures, so that when we deploy, things go flawlessly.

After completing their entry-level occupational training, Dental Officers are typically posted to a large multidisciplinary clinic where they work alongside a team of dental specialists including periodontists, prosthodontists, oral surgeons and comprehensive dentists to continue developing their skills and knowledge.

POITRAS: Following the large specialty care centre, typically you go to a smaller clinic, and this is where you are likely a detachment commander, and you are offered a little bit more leadership opportunity.

As their career progresses, there are great opportunities to pursue subsidized advanced education in one of several dental specialties including oral and maxillofacial surgery; prosthodontics; periodontics; dental public health; and comprehensive dentistry. Continuing professional dental education and military-specific training are also available to all Dental Officers on an ongoing basis. 

POITRAS: If you enjoy leadership, if you enjoy physical fitness, if you enjoy practising excellent dentistry, if you enjoy challenging yourself, if you enjoy seeing the world and making lasting friendships – this is for sure the career for you. And it is exciting – it is full of adventure. Joining the military was the best decision that I’ve made in my life.

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Dentist
  • Public health dentist
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeon
  • Periodontist
  • Prosthodontist

Training

After enrolment, Dental Officers attend Basic Military Officer Qualification training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 12 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.

 

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Dental Officers must complete the Common Health Services Officer (CHSO) course which is an eight-day e-learning course available on the Defence Learning Network (DLN).  The CHSO course introduces Dental Officers to Canadian Armed Forces policies and procedures as well as HR management of military members and civilian personnel.

Dental Officers attend the Basic Dental Officer's Course in Borden, Ontario, for three weeks. They learn the set up and use of the Mobile Dental Clinic for military operations, as well as the administrative and clinical procedures of a CAF dental detachment. The training includes pre-course preparation, lectures, demonstrations, practices, individual assignments, group assignments, presentations and testing.

The Forces actively supports Dental Officers’ efforts to develop and maintain clinical skills in all aspects of dentistry, often providing subsidized training, participation in professional conferences and specialization in the following disciplines:

  • Oral Maxillofacial Surgery;
  • Prosthodontics;
  • Periodontics;
  • Public Health Dentistry; and
  • Comeprehensive Dentistry (AEGD 2-yr program).

Entry plans

If you already have a degree in Dentistry from a recognized Canadian university and a valid licence to practise dentistry in a Canadian province or territory, and a National Dental Examining Board certificate, the CAF may place you directly into a Canadian dental clinic following basic training. You will practise dentistry in a clinical setting while waiting for your Basic Dental Officer Course.

Dental Officer Training Plan (DOTP)

Because this position requires a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree or a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD), the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a DDS or DMD program at a Canadian university.

For the duration of your studies, you receive a full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full-pay in exchange for working with the CAF for a period of time. Typically, candidates selected for this program attend university during the regular academic year and participate in additional military training during the summer months. In order to apply to the DOTP, you must have proof of acceptance to a Canadian dental school of your choice.

For further information, please contact a Canadian Forces Health Services Recruiter: HealthSvcsRecruiting-RecrutementSvcsdesante@forces.gc.ca

Learn more about our Paid Education programs here.

Part time options

For the most part, Dental Officers serve in the Regular Force. There are limited opportunities for serving in the Reserve Force as a dentist.

The role of the Royal Canadian Dental Corps Reserve Force is to provide trained dentists to support, augment and sustain Canadian Forces dental clinics across Canada.

As a dentist in the Reserve Force, you must have a National Dental Examining Board certificate, hold a current unrestricted dental license by a Canadian provincial/territorial regulatory authority and submit a letter of good standing from your professional regulatory authority. You must have the ability to maintain clinical currency within your civilian workplace.

In the event of a personnel insufficiency at one of the Canadian dental clinics, a Reserve Dental Officer may be called upon to work part-time or full-time as a dentist at a clinic.

Another part-time career opportunity exists for dental specialists including oral and maxillofacial surgeons, periodontists, prosthodontists, comprehensive dentists or forensically-trained dentists to broaden the dental support capability for the Health Services by joining 1 Canadian Field Hospital Detachment Ottawa. Members of this unit complete a minimum of 14 days of service and/or training per year. These Reserve Force specialist dental officers may be called upon to teach young general dentists in their area of expertise.

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. All members complete Basic Military Officer Qualification training, which covers topics such as general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the CAF, basic weapons handling, and first aid. This training varies in length and is usually available in modularized format. You must also complete basic occupational training, which teaches you how to employ your clinical skills/profession within the military environment. This training lasts three weeks and is held once a year at the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre in Borden, Ontario.

Reserve Force members may be offered a part-time or full-time position at a Canadian Forces dental clinic if the need arises. The clinic of employment may range from a large group-practice clinic to a smaller one-dentist clinic. The dentist must already live in the vicinity of the clinic in question. They are paid 92.8 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.