Jump to content
The Education Forum

What is the meaning of the "FAILED" notation in this military dental record?

Sandy Larsen

Recommended Posts

Please do not post anything in this thread. Thanks!





Above is a military dental record for an 18 year old man of interest. It indicates that he had a dental examination on March 27, 1958.

A notation was later added to the field titled "Prosthesis Required?" The dentist is instructed to "explain briefly" if the answer is "yes," that a prosthesis is required. The dentist wrote "FAILED 5-5-58."

Here's a closeup of the "Prosthesis Required" field:




The question is, what does this brief notation mean?

It is my contention that this means that an existing prosthesis failed. Either it failed on May 5, 1958, or was reported on that date.

Here is my line of reasoning:

  1. What came to mind when I first read the word "FAILED" was that it was referring to a failed prosthesis. Because that was the context in which it was written. But I decided that I should search for all other dental procedures and devices whose failure would also require a prosthesis. The only other possibility I could think of was failure of an avulsed tooth replantation. That would require a prosthesis.
  2. Ultimately I ruled out a failed replantation, for two reasons:  First, the dentist probably would have written a more meaningful explanation for that, like "FAILED REPLANTATION." And second, there is no sign of a replantation being performed in the "Treatment" section of the dental record.

    So I believe that the "FAILED" notation means that an existing prosthesis failed.
  3. My critics say that, if there had been an existing prosthesis, its existence would have been marked on the dental chart. I disagree. The chart states above it what is to be marked: "Caries, Dental Disease, Missing Teeth, Abnormalities." It does NOT ask for prior treatments (like restorations, crowns, and bridges) to be marked, and indeed none are marked. This is an important distinction because some dental charts do ask for prior treatments to be marked.

    The other chart, on the right, is titled "Dental Treatments Accomplished." So the left chart is for marking things that need fixing, and the right chart for marking things that got fixed. Prior treatments are not marked on either.
  4. My critics ask, what is the point of writing such a brief explanation for why a prosthesis is required? My answer is, I can only guess. But the instruction does indeed say that if the answer is "yes," the dentist is to write a brief explanation.

    My guess is that, at that time, in the military, specialists were used for fitting dental prostheses. The patient would have been sent to a specialist and he would have performed his own examination and treatment.
  5. Note that the failed prosthesis could not have been a replacement for missing tooth #30, which is marked with an X on the chart. Because there was no room for a prosthesis to fit at #30 due to mesial drift and tipping of the adjacent molar into the #30 site. (We know this to be the case because of a forensic study later performed on this patient's corpse.)
  6. I have reason to believe that the existing prosthesis was a bridge, about which I will explain shortly. My critics ask, if there was an existing bridge, then how is it that the missing tooth which that bridge replaced isn't marked with an X on the chart. I say it's simply because the missing tooth had been replaced with the bridge. The tooth was therefore no longer missing and no treatment was necessary for it. No X was needed on the chart.
  7. And finally, there is compelling evidence that this patient lost one or two front teeth during a 9th grade fist fight. While this evidence is not necessary to conclude that this patient had a prosthesis that failed on or around May 5, 1958, it does provide evidence that he did have a prosthesis prior to his 1958 dental examination.

Following is the evidence that the patient lost a tooth when in the 9th grade as a result of a fist fight. This is optional reading.

His Best Friend Testified He Lost a Tooth

In a government hearing held ten years after the fist fight, the patient's best friend testified as follows:

ATTORNEY: But you do remember that you attempted to help him when he was struck in the mouth on that occasion; is that right?
BEST FRIEND: Yes; I think he even lost a tooth from that. I think he was cut on the lip, and a tooth was knocked out.

His Aunt Testified that he Went to See a Dentist

The patient's aunt testified as follows at the government hearing:

"Another time they were coming out of school at 3 o'clock, and there were boys in back of him and one of them called his name, and he said, "Lee," and when he turned around, this boy punched him in the mouth and ran, and it ran his tooth through the lip, so she [his mother] had to go over to the school and take him to the dentist, and I paid for the dentist bill myself, and that's all I know about that, and he was not supposed to have started any of that at that time."

Now, why would the patient go see a dentist if he hadn't lost a tooth in the fight? Surely he didn't go there to have his lip sewn up.

A Yearbook Photo Shows that the Tooth is Missing

The patient's best friend was tasked with taking photos to be included in the 9th grade school yearbook. Here is a closeup showing that the patient's front tooth was missing. In fact, there might be two missing teeth:



It is easier to see in this contrast-adjusted version of the photo:




Given all this evidence, it is my belief that this boy was at some time fitted with a dental bridge for his front teeth. Later, while serving in the military, the prosthesis failed. And that is the reason for the dentist making the "FAILED 5-5-58" notation in the dental record.

But as I said before, this part about the missing front teeth is merely corroboration for the point I am trying to make. That point being that the "FAILED 5-5-58" notation was referring to a failed prosthesis.


Edited by Sandy Larsen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...