Teeth And The Surprising Way That They Can Affect Your Military Enlistment

Military dentist in Iraq
Military dentist in Iraq

Physically fit, medically healthy, psychologically sound. These are the basic (and obvious) qualities that an aspiring enlistee should have. Then there are other qualities that are not so obvious. So, let us pretend the title has not given the gist of the article away like the plentiful Avengers: Endgame spoilers that are currently rampant.

Yes, surprisingly you think, the condition of your teeth could significantly affect whether or not you are allowed to enlist in the military. And while it may seem like a petty reason to determine based on their dental health whether a soldier is fit for duty or not, this reason holds a lot of practicality in it.

So, yes, this article will be concluded with a “that is why you should take good care of your teeth”, but why should you? Read the answers below:

Bad Teeth

Teeth are essential for chewing. If you have more than 8 teeth missing, that is already enough to get you disqualified from joining the military. This is because missing teeth can impede the soldier’s ability to eat a normal diet.

Apart from missing teeth, cavities are also disqualifying factors. They, too, impede a soldier’s ability to chew their food. Tooth cavities are expected to be filled in before an enlistee is allowed to join the military.

While it is completely possible to have military dentists fix your teeth for you, the procedure would be better performed by civilian dentists, especially because they specialise in cosmetic dentistry.

Braces, Veneers, and Other Complex Dental Systems

Soldiers who are currently undergoing corrective procedures for their teeth are likely to be disqualified. Again, these are fixtures that prevent the soldier from eating a normal diet. Soldiers who are currently undergoing corrective procedures like dental implants for their teeth are likely to be disqualified.

Not only that, but these also present unnecessary dangers should they be brought into combat. Getting into a battle with a mouthful of metal wires and brackets is dangerous, especially since these fixtures could come loose and become choking hazards.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jim Hirsch (right), a dentist, and Sgt. Heather Arthur (left), a dental assistant, both with the 965th Dental Company, conduct a tooth extraction on a patient during Beyond the Horizon (BTH) at Canita, Panama, June 4, 2013. U.S. military medical members went to the end of the Pan-American highway to begin medical readiness training exercise bringing medical aid to those living in and around Yaviza. BTH is a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Southern Command-sponsored joint and combined field training humanitarian exercise. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Walter Van Ochten/Released)

Bad Teeth Are Also Indicative Of Jaw Disorders

Misaligned teeth are telltale signs that the jaws are misaligned. It is easy to dismiss this as merely an aesthetic issue, but the problem that this presents is much more serious.

Jaw conditions such as Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). TMJ causes pain during chewing and it also limits jaw movement.

Hindered jaw movement can also cause speech problems. This is problematic because clear communication is essential to the success of any mission.

The Story of The Denture Dozen

If, up to this point, you are still sceptical about how the military takes dental health seriously, then you probably have not heard of the Denture Dozen.

The Denture Dozen (also a nod to the Dirty Dozen) was a group of soldiers who were released from active duty because their teeth were close to falling out of their mouths.

It was during the assignment of US forces to Iraq that about 30% of the 4,500 men who were called to active duty were found to have dental problems.

This is a prime example of why it is important to have healthy teeth, especially as soldiers on active duty.


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