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 Forces Dental Services, 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.
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.
Pay and career development
The starting salary for a student in the Dental Officer Training Plan is $62,000 per year. Upon completion of dental school and obtaining an unrestricted Canadian license to practice dentistry, Dental Officers are promoted to the rank of Captain and their salary is approximately $139,000 per year.
Related civilian occupations
- Public health dentist
- Oral and maxillofacial surgeon
Basic military officer qualification
After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 15 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.
Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.
Dental Officers attend the Basic Dental Officer's Course in Borden, Ontario, for four 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:
- Oral Maxillofacial Surgery
- Public Health
- Advanced General Dentistry
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, the CAF may place you directly into the required military training program following basic training. Basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.
Dental Officer Training Plan (DOTP)
Because this position requires a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a DDS program at a Canadian university.
For the duration of your studies, you receive 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. If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the CAF and the Canadian university of your choice that offers a dentistry program.
This occupation is available part-time within the following environments: Army
Serve with the Reserve Force
The role of the Canadian Forces Health Services Reserve is to provide trained personnel to support, augment and sustain Canadian Forces Health Services organizations for CAF operations and training activities, while building and maintaining links between the Forces and the local community.
As a health care professional in the Health Service Reserve, you must have an unrestricted licence to practise in your clinical field (including certification in your specific specialty) and have the ability to maintain clinical currency within your civilian workplace.
This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at some locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time with a military unit in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.
Dental Officers may serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army or the Royal Canadian Air Force as members of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. They are employed to practise dentistry in the military setting and to assist other health care professionals when particular skills are required. Those employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis usually serve at a location within Canada.
Another part-time career opportunity exists for clinical specialists, including Dental Specialists, to broaden the medical 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 at any time during the year, doing any or all of the following: providing health care services to military members, teaching and monitoring clinical skills of personnel at a local Field Ambulance unit, attending field exercises to practise and/or provide medical care in a military field environment. Members of this unit live anywhere across Canada. There is a small headquarters and administration section located in Ottawa, Ontario to assist them. This unit provides a more flexible option than the Canadian Forces Health Service Reserve Field Ambulance Units. It does not put as much demand on your time but provides you with opportunities to work as a member of the CAF. All members of the Canadian Forces Health Services Reserves have an opportunity to work overseas as members of a deployed Canadian Forces Health Services Team, on a voluntary basis.
Reserve Force training
Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. Applicants must have a degree in Dentistry from a recognized Canadian university and a valid licence to practise dentistry in a Canadian province or territory. All members complete Basic Military Training, which covers topics such as rank structure, wearing a uniform, marching, firing a weapon for self-defence or defence of your patients (as per the Geneva Convention), and surviving in a field environment. This training varies in length and is usually available in two-week sessions or on weekends. You must also complete basic occupational training, which teaches you how to employ your clinical skill/profession within the military environment. This training lasts six weeks and is usually available twice a year, in one-, two- or three-week sessions held at the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre in Borden, Ontario.
Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends, although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.