BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to determine if Australian Defence Force (ADF) members had better oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) than the general Australian population and whether the difference was due to better access to dental care. METHODS: The OHRQoL, as measured by OHIP-14 summary indicators, of participants from the Defence Deployed Solomon Islands (SI) Health Study and the National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004-06 (NSAOH) were compared. The SI sample was age/gender status-adjusted to match that of the NSAOH sample which was age/gender/regional location weighted to that of the Australian population. RESULTS: NSAOH respondents with good access to dental care had lower OHIP-14 summary measures [frequency of impacts 8.5% (95% CI = 5.4, 11.6), extent mean = 0.16 (0.11, 0.22), severity mean = 5.0 (4.4, 5.6)] than the total NSAOH sample [frequency 18.6 (16.6, 20.7); extent 0.52 (0.44, 0.59); severity 7.6 (7.1, 8.1)]. The NSAOH respondents with both good access to dental care and self-reported good general health did not have as low OHIP-14 summary scores as in the SI sample [frequency 2.6 (1.2, 5.4), extent 0.05 (0.01, 0.10); severity 2.6 (1.9, 3.4)]. CONCLUSIONS: ADF members had better OHRQoL than the general Australian population, even those with good access to dental care and self-reported good general health.