Please note: This list is for your informational use and not intended to replace the advice of professional advisors and specialists, including, but not limited to, attorneys and certified public accountants.

General Requirements

  • CODA-accredited DDS or DMD degree
  • Completion of a postdoctorate program in orthodontics
  • Permanent U.S. residency
  • Between ages 21 and 40 (age requirements may vary for each branch)
  • Be in good physical condition and pass full medical examination
  • State dental license
  • Commitment to service terms (i.e., length, assignment, duties, training, etc.)
  • Insurance – life, health, long-term disability


  • May choose active (full-time) or reserve military duty (part-time), though some branches may require a three-year commitment of active duty service
  • Active duty members are typically stationed at a military base in the U.S. or overseas
  • Reserve duty members may live in the U.S. and work at a military dental clinic
  • Option to pursue a two-year orthodontic residency program

Financial Risk

  • Low financial risk to become a paid employee
  • Not responsible for overhead and operating costs
  • Requires little to no upfront investment
  • Financing is not necessary
  • Opportunity to decrease or maintain personal debt
  • Opportunity to pursue orthodontic residency program without incurring additional debt

Income and Other Compensation

  • Fixed income plus bonuses and loan repayment
  • Income is received on an annual basis
  • Income potential is generally lower compared to practice ownership and full-time associate opportunities
  • Includes benefits such as cost of living allowances, loan repayment, 30 days of annual paid vacation, sick leave, health insurance, life insurance, retirement plan, residency specialty training, and continuing education
  • May deduct business expenses
  • Income, social security, and Medicare taxes withheld

Practice Operations

  • Requires little to no managerial and administrative responsibility
  • May have little to no autonomy and control over practice decisions
  • Opportunity to devote more time to patient care without the need to manage business operations
  • Acquire an established patient pool of military service and family members with partial health coverage for orthodontic services
  • May participate in humanitarian missions and provide care to underserved patients around the world

Learning Development Opportunities

  • Opportunity to obtain clinical, research, and some practice management experience
  • Offers learning and professional growth opportunities
  • Work closely with and learn from colleagues across all dental specialties in both the military and private sector

Legal Considerations

  • Must understand and comply with federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and requirements related to a military setting
  • Understand responsibilities and liabilities in a military setting

Contractual Considerations

  • Often includes a military enlistment contract outlining active or reserve duty obligations, employment terms, training, bonuses, and promotions

Work Life Considerations

  • May have limited choice in where to live and practice
  • May have to sacrifice time away from family and friends
  • Includes flexible scheduling and 30 days of annual paid vacation (active duty)
  • May be required to wear military uniform in public
  • May remain in the service and/or pursue other practice opportunities

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