What if my child cannot get braces on the NHS?

By Amy Cuckoo

This is a popular question we get from our parents in clinic and the question we would type into Google if our children were turned away from the NHS for orthodontics. But what options are available if this does happen?

Firstly, I would like to say that the NHS are fantastic and do an incredible job. This blog post is simply highlighting the difficulty parents are facing getting orthodontics on the NHS and what options are available to them if their child is refused them.

However, before I go to the solutions, let me give you some insight as to why some parents are finding it increasingly difficult to get NHS braces for their child and why they are turning to private practices like Aura Dental to help.

Why is it so difficult?

It is a common public misconception that private practices choose not to provide NHS services, I know I thought this before I worked in Dentistry, however, whilst this is correct for some practices, for others it is extremely difficult to “win” a contract bid.

NHS Orthodontic tenders are available to the most competitive bidder and unfortunately there are very few tenders available. In April 2019, only one practice in the Westminster borough, housing 226,000+ people, will be able to provide NHS orthodontics.

The City of Westminster undertook an assessment of the Westminster population in 2013 and at that time there were 18,975 children aged from 10-19. That’s 18,974 other parents competing with you and your child to get free orthodontic treatment on the NHS. ¹

 But why would you not be able to get the braces?

If you have taken your child for an NHS assessment then it’s likely you would have heard about the IOTN rating system, this is the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need and is used to assess your child’s eligibility for NHS treatment.

  • Grade 1 = almost perfection
  • Grade 2 = minor irregularities
  • Grade 3 = greater irregularities which normally do not need treatment for health reasons.
  • Grade 4 = severe degrees of irregularity
  • Grade 5 = severe dental health problems

If you would like to know what is included in these scales, please the British Orthodontic Society page here.

NHS treatment is only available for grade 4 and grade 5 cases. Grade 3 cases are rare and usually judged on an individual basis.

Waiting times

We are always told that “Good things come to those who wait”, however, this is not the same for NHS Orthodontics.

With 18,000 children+ all trying to squeeze in the same funnel the waiting lists for treatment are around 1-2+ years, with the initial consultation having up to a 6 month wait.

Help me!

So, you’ve been waiting for all the baby teeth to fall out, you’ve been waiting for their assessment and been told that they don’t make the IOTN scale, or you’ve been told that they can have them but there is a 2-year waiting list and you don’t want to wait, what do you do now?!

Our first advise is to go to the assessment and see if your child is suitable, if you can get this on the NHS then you absolutely should!
However, if you want to be seen sooner or if they have been declined on the NHS, Dr Korosh Majidi at Aura Dental has a special interest in Orthodontics and extensive experience in children’s orthodontics. Dr Majidi will be happy to see you complimentary!

Seeing us at Aura Dental mean no fees for weekend or out of school appointments!

I hear your next question, “how much is this going to cost me though?”. The initial assessment is completely complimentary and with braces starting from £1999 for a single arch, £2800 for both arches and finance packages available, where there is a will there is a way!


¹ https://www.westminster.gov.uk/westminster-population