What Dental Issues Disqualify You From The US Military?

A sense of duty to their country is usually the motivation behind a person’s decision to enlist in the US military, especially if they were brought up in a patriotic family.

However, even in patriotic families, potential recruits must follow the medical requirements, which is undertaken at the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) or your DoDMERB (The Department of Defence Medical Examination Review Board).

Whether joining as an enlisted member or commissioned officer, you will be fully examined from head to toe: Your vision, hearing, blood pressure, blood work, even your teeth, and much more will be fully screened to see if you have any medically related issue that prevents you from being able to fulfil your term of service.

The disqualifying medical conditions of the mouth and jaw are listed below. The cause(s) for rejection for appointment, enlistment, and induction (without an approved waiver) are an authenticated history of these conditions. Generally, any disease in or around your mouth area that now prohibits you from chewing or swallowing will be disqualifying.

  • Current diseases or pathology of the jaws or associated tissues that prevent the jaws’ normal functioning.
    • A minimum of 6 months healing time must elapse for any individual who completes surgical treatment of any maxillofacial pathology lesions.
  • Temporomandibular disorders or myofascial pain that has been symptomatic or required treatment within the last 12 months.
  • Current severe malocclusion, which interferes with normal chewing or requires immediate and protracted treatment, or a relationship between the mandible and maxilla that prevents satisfactory future prosthodontic replacement.
  • Eight or more grossly (visually) cavitated or carious teeth.
    • Applicants who are edentulous must have functioning dentures. Lack of a serviceable prosthesis that prevents adequate biting and chewing of a normal diet.
    • Individuals undergoing endodontic care are acceptable for entry into the Delayed Entry Programme (DEP) only if a civilian or military dentist or endodontist provides documentation that active endodontic treatment will be completed prior to being sworn to active duty.
  • Current orthodontic appliances (mounted or removable, e.g., Invisalign®) for continued active treatment unless:
    • (1) The appliance is permanent or removable retainer(s); or
    • (2) An orthodontist (civilian or military) provides documentation that:
      • (a) Active orthodontic treatment will be completed before being sworn in to active duty; or
      • (b) All orthodontic treatment will be completed before beginning active duty.

With this in mind, a dental examination may determine if you will be barred from performing military service. So, before proceeding to join the military, why not first check-in with your dentist if you have any of the following issues:


If you conduct an online search of “dentist in Tampa emergency,” the chances are the results will bring up, at least once, the term “malocclusion”; this is because malocclusion is a dental condition that often leads to emergency surgery.

This refers to a bite that does not correctly align from the back to the front. Typically, this is caused by having crooked teeth. Generally speaking, your front teeth align to your lower teeth whenever you take a bite, and the teeth on each side of your mouth ensure that it will not result in a poor bite.

This situation is usually considered a minor dental concern, and people who struggle with this are referred to cosmetic dentists. However, if you have overly crowded teeth, there is a possibility that a lack of space between the surfaces would encourage tooth loss or tooth decay.

In worse cases, malocclusion may even pose a threat to your ability to speak or eat. Since this prevents you from chewing, you would either have to begin an early, protracted treatment or request a prosthodontic replacement, where the latter disqualifies you from enlisting.

Orthodontic Appliances

Orthodontic appliances pertain to a dental device customised for treating dental conditions, particularly crooked teeth, jaw irregularities, and crowded teeth.

These appliances could be removable, fixed/mounted, or a combination of the two. All dentists would have these items customised for their patients by taking x-rays and moulding an exact fit.

Suppose that you are wearing braces and are currently receiving treatment from your orthodontist. Likely, you will not be able to successfully recruit training because it will be impossible for you to be deployed on duty if you have to attend treatments.

On the other hand, you could still be formally sworn under DEP, which grants you the chance to enlist while finishing your orthodontic care. Once you have completed your treatment, you will be allowed to begin active service.

Although those with braces are not allowed to join, retainers have been waived, so you would still get to keep a device that can protect your smile.

Jaw Diseases

Military dentist in Iraq
Military dentist in Iraq

An example of jaw disease is temporomandibular disorders (TMD). The temporomandibular joints or TMJ of a person consists of 2 joints that connect your jaw to the skull.

Specifically, they are responsible for the movement of your lower jaw, making you capable of yawning, chewing, swallowing, and talking with no issues. When these joints cannot align, they will not synchronise the movement and that can cause trouble for you.

Thanks to this, individuals who have been diagnosed with TMD typically struggle with chronic facial pain. It is believed that an excessive strain brings the cause behind this condition to the joints.

Thus, it is a common sight to witness these people develop a habit of grinding their teeth or doing involuntary clenching of their jaws, leading to pain. Besides that, they usually struggle, for example, with jaw soreness between the morning or the late afternoon.

Unfortunately, these inabilities motivated military recruiters to disqualify as they could put themselves and their comrades in danger.


Many reasons could prevent you from enlisting, and these dental concerns are just a few of them. So if you are interested in performing military, pay attention to your oral health – as a healthy mouth helps a healthy body.


AR 40-501 – Standards of Medical Fitness (28 March 2002).

DOD Instructions 6130.03, Volume 01 – Medical Standards for Military Service: Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction – Change 02 (03 April 2021).

DOD Instruction 6130.4 – Criteria and Procedure Requirements for Physical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction in the Armed Forces (02 April 2004).

DOD Directive 6200.04 – Force Health Protection (FHP) (23 April 2007).


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.