NHS Orthodontics

Children under 18 may be eligible for orthodontic treatment coverage under the NHS.

Why Get Orthodontic Treatment?

Orthodontists treat the positioning of the teeth, giving patients a straighter, healthier smile. Orthodontics help correct the alignment of crooked, uneven or crowded teeth and address issues with the bite. It is also possible to correct the misalignment of jaws with functional appliances. When a patient gets orthodontic treatment the result is straighter teeth, a bite where the front and back teeth meet evenly and reduced damage to more prominent teeth. Additionally, straighter teeth make it easier to keep your teeth and gums clean.

NHS Orthodontic Treatment at The Nightingale Clinic

Orthodontic treatment at our dental practice involves providing each patient their ideal result, without compromise. Through NHS orthodontics, we aim to deliver a gold standard of care and treatment for every patient.

Patients who require fixed brace treatment are fitted with traditional metal braces, with the aim of creating an ideal bite. These braces come with colour options for the elastic rings and modules that hold the wires in place.

Please note that if you prefer a tooth-coloured appliance or a more discreet brace system like Invisalign, these options are only available on a private basis. If you elect to pay privately for your treatment, you have the option of correcting specific aspects of your bite or smile, which may eliminate the need to extract any teeth.

Through NHS orthodontics, patients are unable to correct specific aspects of their smile; we have to correct the smile as a whole, sometimes at the expense of healthy teeth. Obtaining the perfect smile may require the removal of one or more teeth. Extracting these teeth provides some extra space in your mouth, making it possible for the remaining teeth to straighten and additionally correct any bite issues.

Straighter Teeth Through the Government’s NHS Programme

There is a high demand for NHS orthodontic services and just like other NHS treatments, patients need to have a clear health need for the treatment. Under the NHS, orthodontic dental coverage is available primarily for children. Orthodontic treatment usually starts after most of a child’s adult teeth have grown in, which is around 11 to 14 years old. Orthodontic treatment can begin at any age, however, coverage through the NHS is generally limited to eligible patients up to age 18.

The IOTN Rating System

The NHS uses the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN) to assess a patient’s eligibility for NHS orthodontic coverage. IOTN helps select the children who will benefit most from orthodontic treatment and is a fair way to prioritise limited NHS resources.

IOTN is made up of two separate components, which offer a combined overall grade. The grading determines whether or not a patient is eligible for NHS treatment, such as orthodontics.

The first component of IOTN objectively assesses the position of the teeth. It measures how far their teeth are from the ideal position. Characteristics of their bite (such as level of crowding, number of developmentally absent teeth, how far forward their front teeth are, etc.) are given a score between 1 and 5. On this scale, 1 is a near-perfect bite and 5 reflects severe dental problems.

The second component takes into consideration the aesthetic nature of a patient’s smile. This scale uses 10 colour photographs of different smiles, which reflect the varying levels of dental attractiveness. The patient receives a grade between 1 and 10, depending on which picture most adequately represents their smile.

To be eligible for orthodontic treatment under the NHS, a minimum overall score of 3.6 must be achieved.

Types of Orthodontic Treatment Under the NHS
If you are covered for orthodontic treatment under the NHS, there are limited treatments and appliance options, which include:
  • Metal braces to correct the position of the teeth.
  • Functional appliances such as Twin-blocks that align the jaws.
For patients who are not eligible for the NHS orthodontic coverage or those who are interested in an orthodontic appliance that is less visible, please ask us about private treatments available at our dental practice.

Can I Have Orthodontic Treatment on the NHS?

We have treated many NHS orthodontic patients, however, The Nightingale Clinic provides specialist care on a referral basis. To become an NHS patient at our practice, please do the following:
Make an Appointment with Your Dentist

If you are a patient under the age of 18, arrange an appointment with your dentist if you believe you will benefit from straighter teeth. Your dentist will conduct the IOTN assessment, which will confirm whether you are a suitable patient for NHS orthodontic treatment.

Have Your Dentist Make a Referral

If your dentist determines that orthodontic treatment is appropriate, they will refer you to a specialist orthodontist. Orthodontists are dentists who have trained three additional years to become specialists in teeth straightening and brace treatments.

Join a Waitlist

Due to the popularity of NHS orthodontic treatment, dental practices nationwide often have waiting lists of two years or more. An ideal age for a referral to an orthodontist is when you are 10 or 11 years old, enabling treatment to start by the time you turn 14.

What if I’m Not Eligible for NHS Orthodontic Treatment?

If a patient doesn’t meet the criteria for NHS treatment, they can still access brace treatment as either an independent or private patient. There is no waitlist to begin orthodontic treatment as these types of patients — following an assessment, you start your journey toward a straighter smile right away.

Everybody deserves a beautiful smile, which is why we offer independent treatment — it’s a mid-point between private treatment and NHS treatment.

Exactly the same as NHS treatment, independent treatment suits patients whose IOTN rating was not sufficient for NHS coverage. This treatment is available at a subsidised rate compared to private treatment. Patients are fitted with traditional metal braces, with appointments every 8 to 10 weeks to check on progress and make adjustments.

If patients would like to opt for clear or removable braces, they will need to undergo orthodontic treatments as a private patient.

Cost of NHS Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic treatment through the NHS for patients under the age of 18 is provided with no charge at the point of access. Patients will not pay a thing for the orthodontic services they receive — from the initial consult to the final retainer review. The only fee that may apply is if any removable appliances, in this case retainers, are lost or damaged. During treatment, the replacement fee is reduced, but this fee rises once the course of treatment is complete.

Keeping Your Teeth in Place After Orthodontic Treatment Ends

Teeth straightening treatments take 18 to 24 months on average.

Once the treatment ends, you will need to wear a retaining brace or an Essix Retainer which looks like a thin mouthguard. This appliance is usually removable and needs to be worn every night to keep your teeth from migrating back to where they used to be. You will need to use retainers for at least a year, but you may need to wear it indefinitely, depending on your specific needs.

Download our orthodontic advice sheet to learn more about retainers and taking care of your straightened teeth.

Take the Step to Straighter Teeth

A beautiful, healthy smile starts with a consultation. If you or your child may be eligible for NHS orthodontic treatment, please ask your dentist to refer you to our practice here. Not eligible for NHS Orthodontic Treatment? Explore our Specialist Orthodontics as either an independent or private patient.