If both straight teeth and a military career are on your wish list, you might ask if you can have braces in the military.
However, you may want to plan ahead before you enlist in the military if you have or are about to start orthodontic care.
You cannot be in the middle of orthodontics when enlisting, but that does not mean your military career ends before it begins.
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Table of Contents
Boot Camp: Braces in the Military
You have both options and obstacles when it comes to braces in the military.
If you have braces now and are near the end of your orthodontic care, you can begin the joining process, but you cannot swear in until after your braces are removed.
You can, however, enter the delayed entry program (DEP) while undergoing orthodontic care.
As long as you get a letter from your orthodontist saying your treatment will finish before being sworn in, you can join the military.
After Boot Camp: Braces in the Military
If you are already on active duty, you might find the military believes orthodontics is medically necessary.
However, it is challenging to get this diagnosis, which means the military pays for your treatment.
However, many service members pay out-of-pocket for orthodontic care once training is over and while stationed at their permanent duty station.
Braces in the Military: Retainers
Usually, after finishing orthodontic care, you must wear a retainer to prevent teeth from shifting again.
Often these retainers are removable and look like a clear plastic aligner. Other times the retainers are permanently fixed behind your teeth.
In either case, retainers are fine to have when joining the military and after basic according to DoDI 6130.03, V1.
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Frequently Asked Questions
We address some frequently asked questions below.
What about clear plastic aligners like Invisalign?
Clear plastic aligners are similar to retainers that can be removed.
According to the Department of Defense Instructions for Medical Standards for enlistment, orthodontic devices must be either permanent or removable.
If your plastic aligners are removable, there should not be any problem with joining the military.
Does the military pay for braces?
The military will pay for braces only if a doctor deems the braces are medically necessary.
Many soldiers report it is a challenge to find a doctor that agrees with the medical necessity.
On the other hand, other soldiers have no difficulty.
That being said, many service members opt to use their own money and see an orthodontist independently to start their treatment.
However, this happens after completing boot camp and other training.
Will having braces impact my deployment?
Before deployment, you are likely going to need a waiver in order to deploy.
During your orthodontic treatment, your braces should have a neutral force, which is a pause in treatment. ‘
In other words, your brace’s bands connected to the brackets are not moving your teeth.
Having braces will medically disqualify you for entering active duty service.
However, if you can finish up your orthodontic care before swearing in, you can finish your treatment plan while in the process of enlisting.
Also, many service members wait until completing boot camp and other training to begin their orthodontic care.
In some cases, the military might deem braces medically necessary and even pay for them.
However, many service members opt to pay for the treatment themselves and find a civilian orthodontist.
If facing deployment, service members need a waiver for their orthodontic care, and they need to pause their treatment until they return.
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