It’s no secret that the military has strict physical and mental standards for enlistment. A few ailments that can prevent you from joining the military include having a mental illness, flat feet, conditions such as diabetes, and the list goes on.
Did you know that dental problems are also on that list? That’s right, to join the military, you need to be in good health and oral health plays a big part in that. From cavities and braces to dental implants, these dental problems can all be deal-breakers when it comes to enlistment unless you get an approved waiver.
Any malocclusion which interferes with proper mastication will prohibit you from joining the military. This includes Temporomandibular Jaw Disorder (TMJ) and myofascial disorders. Soldiers need to be able to properly chew their food to stay healthy and they also need to be able to communicate clearly.
When soldiers suffer from jaw disorders or other bite problems that interfere with speech and chewing, it can interfere with critical communication and the soldier’s health. Anything that interferes with proper chewing will need to be addressed with surgery and will still require an approved waiver to join the military.
An enlisting soldier must be free of cavities and have all dental work to address tooth decay completed by the time they are sworn in. If cavities are detected, this will not bar you from joining the military as long as you get the required fillings by the time you are sworn in.
If tooth decay is more extensive and requires root canal treatment, you may still join the military but will have to do so through the Delayed Entry Program and documentation from a health care provider declaring that you will receive the endodontic treatment before active duty must be submitted.
Other signs of insufficient oral health include excessive missing teeth. A soldier cannot join the military if they have more than 8 missing teeth, because this will impede their ability to adequately chew food, which is itself a big disqualifier.
Oral appliances such as braces are disqualifying because they are choking hazards and metal wires and brackets pose a risk of injury during battle. Soldiers undergoing orthodontic treatment can join the military under the Delayed Entry Program, provided that the appliances are completely removed. Retainers are not a disqualifying oral appliance.
However, other corrective procedures that are currently being undergone, such as veneers or multiple dental implants, will prevent a soldier from joining the military. Dental implants are tricky because they are approved on a case-by-case basis.
If your dental implants fix an issue that is no longer recurrent, you can get an approved waiver to join the military. However, if you have multiple dental implants or your implants impact your ability to chew or eat a normal diet, then this is disqualifying.
The previously mentioned conditions will all disqualify you from joining the military in an exam. To prevent the risk of developing cavities, tooth decay, or issues that could interfere with mastication, you should be regularly attending dental appointments every 6 months.
At your bi-annual dental appointment at Coronado Dental Associates, we will perform an oral exam and clean your teeth to remove plaque and tartar buildup. You will receive a fluoride treatment which offers additional protection against cavities. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Melanie Villalobos or Dr. Margaret Meadows.