I have about six months left of Invisalign treatment and am considering enlisting. One of my buddies who’s already in told me I won’t be allowed to wear my aligners during basic training. I’m not sure if I should wait another six months, if I can get away with switching to a retainer now, or if I should just stop treatment and start again after I finish basic. I don’t want to undo all the progress I’ve made though. What do people usually do?
Great question. Let’s break it down.
According to DOD Instruction 6130.03, Medical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction into the Military Services, Section 5.8 e “Current orthodontic appliances (mounted or removable, e.g., Invisalign®) for continued active treatment” is a disqualifying condition. That means you can’t be undergoing any kind of orthodontic treatment, including braces or aligners, when you go through basic training. The guide goes on to list exceptions, though there are really only two ways to get around it. First, you could wear a removable retainer. Second, you can be approved to serve if you’ll finish treatment before you go active.
It sounds like you’re past the halfway point or close to it in terms of treatment. You can check with your dentist to see if it’s possible to pause treatment and wear a retainer while you’re in basic training. But, chances are, your teeth aren’t in a good position to stop and you really want to get your bite totally squared away. If you’re not in a good position to pause, doing so could leave you with issues like jaw pain and broken teeth. Bear in mind you could run into similar issues if you try to go without a retainer—your teeth will start to shift as soon as you stop wearing your aligners. So, this is something you really want to work with your dentist on to get confirmation. If you can’t stop and switch to a retainer, you it’s not a good idea to pause.
That in mind, it’s probably better for your teeth if you wait to enlist or you start the process but don’t go active until after you’ve finished treatment. This ensures you’ll get to use all the aligners (which have probably already been made and paid for by you) and that you’ll have everything behind you when you go into basic.
Best of luck to you and thank you in advance for your service!
This blog is sponsored by Elgin dentist and Invisalign provider, Dr. Steve Sirin.