What is NHS orthodontic treatment?
NHS orthodontics is free in the UK for children under 18 with a clear, clinical need for the treatment. This is assessed on a scale called IOTN (The Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need).
During your assessment, your orthodontist will look at both your dental health and the appearance of your smile. If you are rated a grade 4 or 5, you are eligible for NHS treatment. This includes problems such as severe overcrowding of the teeth, a severe overbite, or extensive missing teeth that require gap closure.
Getting NHS treatment
Once you’ve been assessed, you will usually be referred to an orthodontist (a teeth straightening expert) by your usual dentist. You can also seek treatment with an orthodontist directly.
The high demand for NHS orthodontics means that access to orthodontic services is subject to availability and there may be a long waiting list for treatment, ranging from around six months to two or more years depending on your area.
If you don’t feel you can wait that long to have your braces fitted, there are alternative paid options available, including having your treatment privately or with our Orthodontic Essentials scheme.
Types of NHS braces
If you're being treated on the NHS, you'll most likely have traditional fixed braces fitted. Fixed braces are attached to the teeth with brackets and wires so they stay on permanently throughout treatment and gradually push the teeth into the desired position.
Your braces are likely to be on for between 18 months to 24 months depending on how complex your orthodontic problems are. You’ll see your orthodontist every six weeks to get your braces adjusted and tightened so they continue to do their job of moving the teeth.
Preparing for your treatment
Before you start your treatment, you must have a good level of oral hygiene. Treating someone with plaque or stained teeth would cause long-term damage to their teeth which could result in eventual tooth loss. If your oral hygiene needs improvement, your orthodontist will guide you through the process to ensure you can begin your treatment as soon as possible. Seeing a hygienist and getting oral hygiene instruction can also be arranged to help speed up the process.
What if I don’t qualify for NHS treatment?
If you don’t qualify for NHS orthodontic treatment, or perhaps you have qualified but are on a long waiting list, you can access teeth straightening treatment privately.
If you're under 18, you could take advantage of our Orthodontic Essentials treatment. It’s ideal for those who do not qualify for NHS orthodontics, who are on a long waiting list.
If you’re looking for a more discreet straightening option, there are a range of invisible braces available to you, including Invisalign, lingual braces and cosmetic teeth straightening.