Summary Swiss army recruits (N = 606) from the army base at Thun were dentally examined with a standardized method in the year 2006. The results were compared with those of previous surveys (1985 and 1996). The mean DM6FT-value in the year 2006 was 3.11, whereas in 1996 it had been clearly higher (4.95). This corresponds to a caries decline of 37%. The observed caries decline can only partly be explained. Recruits, who were smokers, showed an increased caries experience. Recruits of the German-speaking part of Switzerland who had pro?ted from oral health lessons by oral health instructors in Kindergarten and primary schools did not differ in caries experience from recruits of the French-speaking part of Switzerland.