The NHS currently funds orthodontic treatment for those patients that meet the NHS assessment criteria. All NHS treatment is carried out using high quality materials and modern techniques either by, or under the supervision of, a Specialist Orthodontist.
At an initial NHS assessment there will be some simple forms to fill out asking about medical and dental history. We will then assess the teeth and the nature of any problems - this may include the taking of x-rays.
The NHS dental contract in England imposes restrictions on the eligibility of patients for orthodontic treatment using the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN). As the name suggests, this index gives a higher score to patients that need treatment based on their dental health.
Should a patient not qualify on the grounds of IOTN or dental status (untreated caries, poor motivation or oral hygiene) we will write back explaining why they have not been accepted for treatment. The risks and benefits of any proposed interventions will be discussed with the patient and their family at the time.
Prior to NHS dental orthodontic treatment, it is important that patients maintain a good standard of oral hygiene and have a suitable level of understanding as to what treatment might involve and what we require from them.
The waiting time for an NHS assessment can be as long as a year. For more details on wait times in your area, contact your local NHS dental team.
Please note that NHS assessment and treatment is not available to patients aged 18 or over or to those whose orthodontic problem is too mild according to the IOTN score.
The NHS assessment
At an initial NHS orthodontic assessment, there will be some simple forms to fill out asking about medical and dental history. We will then assess the teeth and the nature of any problems. This might include the taking of x-rays or moulds of the teeth.
Following this and during the same consultation appointment, the nature of the problem will be discussed along with the need for and type of any treatment required. At the end of the first appointment, the patient will be placed into one of the following groups:
- Treatment waiting list – for those patients that are ready to start treatment
- Review – for patients likely to need treatment but are not yet ready to start
- Discharged – for patients who do not wish to go ahead with treatment or who are not suitable on the grounds of IOTN or tooth brushing
- Referral – for a small number of patients with more complex problems, referral to the hospital orthodontic service for advice and/or treatment may be required.
Due to the limitations with NHS orthodontic contracts there may be a waiting list before treatment can begin.
If you (or your child) is not eligible for NHS brace treatment, you may wish to consider private brace options. These include clear braces and Invisalign® clear aligners. Flexible finance, including interest free options, is also available to make funding treatment easier.