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TRICARE: Off Base Dental Care Options For Active Duty Troops

Under TRICARE, family members have the most flexibility. They can choose between TRICARE Prime, TRICARE Select, and other options that may be open to them depending on where they live and where the military member is assigned.

Those serving on active duty don’t have the same options as family members; they must use TRICARE Prime and typically receive dental care through on-base clinics run by the military.

But in the case of dental services, that’s not always possible, and the active duty member is required to seek approved civilian dental care. What is an active duty TRICARE member to do in cases where they need dental care from an off-base provider?

TRICARE Active Duty Dental Program

Active duty service members get most dental care at military dental clinics, as mentioned above.

TRICARE offers the Active Duty Dental Program for those assigned stateside or in areas “outside of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” according to the TRICARE official site.

This program requires a referral from a military dental clinic in the USA and for those working in remote areas. Those stationed overseas must use TRICARE Prime Remote Overseas.

Read more: Ultimate TRICARE Guide

TRICARE Appointment Control Numbers (ACN)

TRICARE reminds active-duty troops that they need a TRICARE Appointment Control Number to get civilian dental care. Without this number, you may be required to pay the full cost of services rendered.

How do you get an ACN? By referral from your military dental clinic. But these are also available without a referral for routine dental care that meets the following requirements:

  • Services must be covered under TRICARE
  • Less than $750 (U.S. dollars) per procedure or appointment
  • Not more than $1,500 U.S. dollars for treatment plans completed within 12 consecutive months
  • Scheduled with a network dentist in the U.S.

How To Request A Referral (ACN)

Emergency Dental Care

You typically do not need an ACN for qualifying emergency dental care.

TRICARE makes provisions for emergency dental needs. In many cases, the servicemember’s  military dental clinic has emergency dental procedures you must follow, and you should know those procedures in advance of need.”

If you are stationed at a remote assignment, you do not need any authorization for emergency care to “relieve pain, treat infection, or control bleeding,” according to TRICARE.mil.

Read more: Ultimate TRICARE Guide

About the author


Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.