The stories of active service members with dental issues abound online. Just Google “The Denture Dozen” and see how problematic orthodontic health can be for a career in the military.
Fortunately, our valiant troops can bring their oral health back in order! Numerous orthodontists offer braces and Invisalign to active service members. We at Patuxent Orthodontics support our troops by offering orthodontic services to active personnel stationed in MD!
Today’s article will explain the intricacies of receiving orthodontic care in the military and how Invisalign is the best choice for active service members.
Are Your Teeth Healthy Enough for Military Enlistment?
Your dental health can be the make-or-break factor in your military career. Unfortunately, you might learn the importance of dental health the hard way.
The “Denture Dozen” became a notorious example of poor dental health in the US Army. Their teeth needed so much orthodontic care that the higher-ups pulled them out of the Iraqi combat zone, relieving them from active duty.
But, their story is only a drop in the ocean. Almost a third of the 4500 active duty guardsmen deployed in Iraq were deemed unfit for overseas travel due to severe dental issues.
Your ability to chew determines whether you’re accepted or rejected from the military. Part of military discipline revolves around eating one’s food without dietary restrictions or the prospect of future tooth decay. If you require orthodontic care or boast excellent oral health while missing a few teeth, your Army recruiter may not deem you eligible for service.
Historically, recruiters have rejected enlistment applications due to:
- Active orthodontic treatment plan
- Chewing impairments
- Missing teeth
- Myofascial pain
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
- Untreated cavities
Can You Wear Invisalign or Braces During Basic Training?
The Department of Defense’s Instruction 6130.03 (Medical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction into the Military Services), Section 6.8g clearly stipulates that “current orthodontic appliances for continued active treatment” are disqualifying unless (direct quote):
- The appliance is permanent or removable retainer(s); or
- An orthodontist (civilian or military) provides documentation that:
(a) Active orthodontic treatment will be completed before being sworn in to active duty;
(b) All orthodontic treatment will be completed before beginning active duty.
As a result, you will have to either finish your orthodontic treatment or put it on hold before boot camp. Once enlisted, you may resume and conclude your treatment before becoming active military personnel. Plan to wear braces or Invisalign in between these two crucial moments of your military service.
When Does the Military Offer Braces?
The US Army active personnel community concurs that the military pays for orthodontic services only to correct bite issues. That is why Army physicians prescribe more aggressive appliances such as braces instead of clear retainers.
Not all service members prove their bite issues to Army physicians, ending up paying for treatment out of pocket. Others, however, manage to link cosmetic issues to bite-related ones, thus gaining coverage under the TRICARE Dental Program.
What if My Base Doesn’t Have an Orthodontist?
Going off-base is the most straightforward option for military personnel living on bases with no Army dentists. Numerous off-base orthodontists keep close ties with the Army and can refer you to another military physician. Otherwise, they will treat you themselves while offering a treatment plan payment schedule.
Although some Army physicians prescribe traditional braces as the go-to treatment avenue for bite issues, others welcome less invasive options, such as Invisalign!
Does the Tricare Dental Program Offer a Military Discount for Invisalign?
Invisalign doesn’t enjoy a military discount since it falls under the “cosmetic treatment” umbrella. The same applies for braces.
However, if you can prove to your Army physician that Invisalign or braces will address your bite issues, your treatment will fall under the United Concordia-administered TRICARE Dental Program.
In that case, you will be eligible for the following premiums:
Source: TRICARE Dental Program Monthly Premiums
The Advantages of Invisalign Over Braces for the Military!
Three reasons are enough to convince active duty members that Invisalign is the superior treatment option compared to other orthodontic services: readiness, freedom, and the ability to treat oneself!
1. Invisalign Doesn’t Affect Your Dental Class / Readiness
Braces will significantly affect the first steps of your military career.
First, enlisting with braces means you will join the Delayed Entry Program, which allows you to become military personnel without beginning active service. Only after having finished your braces treatment plan will you be eligible for your next career step.
Second, only certain deployed locations accept military personnel undergoing treatment with braces. Your Army physician or orthodontist will:
- “Deactivate” your braces if deployment lasts more than 6 months.
- Request complete removal for longer deployment times.
Invisalign, on the other hand, does not affect your dental class / readiness! You will be eligible for deployment right after boot camp, allowing you to take the first steps of your military career on time.
2. Invisalign is Not Tied to an Orthodontist
Traditional braces pose the issue of mobility.
Brackets are a “prescription”, and each orthodontic office works with their own manufacturer. With hundreds of manufacturers across the country, it’s easy to understand how logistics can become a nightmare.
For example, if we’re dealing with a transfer case, we have to remove all the brackets and replace them with the ones our office provides — a customary approach with most orthodontic offices.
With Invisalign, you don’t have to worry about logistics anymore!
Since the same company produces all these clear aligners, we can easily access your patient info, helping you enjoy a seamless transition.
3. With Invisalign, Active Duty Personnel Can Treat Themselves
Finally, braces pose the issue of self-treatment.
Only an orthodontist has the skills to perform routine brace adjustments. For that reason, military personnel have to stall, put on hold, or discontinue their treatment with braces when there’s no specialized Army physician on base.
Invisalign empowers you to supervise your treatment plan at all times!
As long as you change your trays based on a provided schedule, you can complete your treatment from any deployed location in the country.
Start Your Orthodontic Treatment at Patuxent Orthodontics!
Contact Patuxent Orthodontics if Invisalign is the solution to your dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of Invisalign or have questions about the process, use our live chat or call (240) 802-7217 or send us a message through our contact us page to connect with our friendly staff today and book a complimentary orthodontic consultation!
Our office, located at 44220 Airport View Dr., Hollywood, MD 20636, proudly serves Maryland’s Patuxent area, as well as the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in Hollywood, Wildewood, or Leonardtown and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in Maryland, don’t hesitate to visit our office!
We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining your perfect smile and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to become a part of our smiling community!
- DOD Instruction 8510 – Executive Services Directorate, www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/issuances/dodi/851001p.pdf?ver=2019-02-26-101520-300. Accessed 23 Jun. 2023.
- Gettle, Jessica. “Everything You Need to Know about Tricare Orthodontic Coverage.” The Military Wallet, 10 Dec. 2020, themilitarywallet.com/tricare-orthodontic-coverage/. Accessed 23 Jun. 2023.
- “Home.” TRICARE, www.tricare.mil/Costs/DentalCosts/TDP/Premiums. Accessed 23 June 2023.
- “Home.” TRICARE, www.tricare.mil/TDP. Accessed 23 June 2023.
- United Concordia Dental, www.unitedconcordia.com/. Accessed 23 June 2023.