NHS Dental Treatment

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Your orthodontic treatment journey is made up of 2 stages; stage 1 is your assessment and options and stage 2 is your orthodontic treatment path.

We'll carry out a detailed examination to determine what treatment will achieve the best results and if you meet the NHS criteria for treatment.

Click on the image opposite to download a copy of our guide to NHS orthodontic treatment.

Stage 1

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welcome pack &
appointment letter

You are here! Your journey to straighter teeth is just beginning. We hope this welcome pack answers all your questions. Keep your appointment letter safe and let us know as soon as possible if you need to rearrange.

 
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assessment appointment

This NHS assessment appointment is with one of our highly qualified orthodontists. They will carry out a detailed assessment to determine the best course of treatment and advise whether you have met the criteria for NHS treatment.

Typical Timings
1-3 months

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your treatment path options

If you have not met the NHS criteria or simply wish to start treatment sooner, we can discuss a private treatment path: Options For You. It may be necessary to have dental treatment such as a tooth extraction in preparation for your orthodontic journey.

Typical Timings
1-3 months

 
 
 
 
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NHS treatment path...

Following your assessment and options, you'll begin stage 2 of the journey - your quality orthodontic treatment fully-funded by the NHS.

 

Stage 2

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NHS waiting list

NHS treatment is very popular. As such there is a waiting list for treatment. Waiting times fluctuate and you’ll be advised on the current waiting times after your assessment. If you want treatment sooner, ask about private treatment: Options For You.

Typical Timings
36-48 months

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metal brace fitted

You may need hygiene or other treatment to ensure your teeth and gums are in good condition before your brace is fitted. Some people find their new brace a little uncomfortable to start with but this is normal and quickly improves.

Typical Timings
36-48 months

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adjustment

You will have regular adjustment appointments to move your teeth in a series of steps. From when your brace is first fitted, it typically takes between 18 to 24 months for your teeth to move into their new, straighter position.

Typical Timings
38-72 months

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your new smile

Your metal brace is removed and you will be given a retainer to wear which will help to keep your teeth in their new position. Time to enjoy your new smile!

Typical Timings
54-72 months

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retainer

It is important that you wear your retainer according to the orthodontist’s instructions. This will ensure your teeth remain in their new, straight position and do not start to “drift”

Typical Timings
Always & forever!

What happens along the way...

Together we start the journey to your new smile. Here’s some more information about what happens along the way:

questions?

Following your clinical assessment you will have the opportunity to ask ANY questions no matter how silly you think they might sound. We want you to be totally comfortable before you start your treatment.

NHS brace

The NHS require us to fit a standard metal brace for your orthodontic treatment, which will do a very good job at straightening your teeth. It is not as discreet as the more modern braces we can offer as a private treatment option but they are just as effective.

NHS waiting list

Please be aware that due to the demand for NHS treatment there may be a long waiting list. When you are at the top of the waiting list you will be invited to make another appointment for our ‘records’. At this appointment you will have x-rays, photos and impressions taken of your teeth.

appointments

While you are wearing your brace you will be required to visit for regular adjustment appointments, usually every 6 to 8 weeks. Once the brace is removed, after 18 to 24 months, you will be fitted with a retainer to keep your teeth in their new position. This should be worn indefinitely.

 

assessment

At your assessment appointment, a rating system known as the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN) is used to assess your eligibility for NHS treatment.

If you don’t meet the criteria for NHS treatment, we can use your assessment to determine if any alternative private treatment options are suitable.


Please don’t be anxious about your assessment. This is not a test! There will be no drills or injections. This appointment is purely our chance to look at your teeth and see what needs to be done to straighten them out. It is also your opportunity to ask us anything. We don’t bite!

NHS orthodontic treatment is free for people under the age of 18 with a clear health need for treatment. The assessment is necessary because of high demand for this service. This also means that there can be a long waiting list.

To fairly distribute NHS resources, the IOTN is used to assess the need and eligibility of those under 18 for NHS orthodontic treatment. NHS resources are limited and the IOTN is an objective and reliable way to select those who will benefit most from treatment. The accurate use of IOTN requires specialist training and this assessment of your dental health using the IOTN has to take place at our specialist orthodontic practices.

Your straightening needs

Orthodontics is dental treatment to correct the position of the teeth. Your exact treatment needs will depend on the problems we have identified during your assessment but typically involves fitting and adjusting a brace. Sometimes, other dental treatment may also be necessary. Orthodontic treatment can help with:

  • correction of dental crowding and straightening of your teeth

  • correction of your bite so the front and back teeth meet evenly, reducing the chance of damage to prominent teeth

  • improving your appearance, including your smile

  • In some cases, abnormal development of the teeth and jaw can affect the shape of the face so orthodontic treatment can help to correct this with life-changing results

 

When?

Orthodontic treatment is usually only started after most of your adult teeth have started to come through. This is usually around 12 years old, but depends on the number of adult teeth you have and the growth of your face and jaws. You can be assessed for NHS treatment at any time before your 18th birthday. At this initial assessment your teeth will be categorised on a 5 grade scale.

Grades 1 – 2

Your teeth are nearly perfect so it is unlikely you will qualify for treatment under the NHS.

However, there may be things about your smile that bother you so we can always discuss Options For You, our private orthodontic treatment plan. We offer affordable finance and more convenient appointments wherever possible. Often treatment can start straight away.

Grade 3

Your teeth do have some greater irregularities, but these do not normally require treatment for health reasons.

Exceptions may be made on a case by case basis. However, we understand that problems with your teeth can affect your confidence so we can always discuss Options For You, our private orthodontic treatment plan.

We offer affordable finance and more convenient appointments wherever possible. Often treatment can start straight away.

Grades 4 -5

NHS funded treatment is available where teeth are assessed as grade 4 and grade 5 on the IOTN scale.

If you are assessed as IOTN 4, this qualifies for NHS funded orthodontic treatment and you will be placed on the waiting list.  IOTN 5 requires NHS funded orthodontic treatment and can sometimes be on an urgent basis so treatment could be provided almost immediately. 

Please be aware that if you need orthodontic treatment, you can always decide to have treatment privately which may be a quicker option than the NHS waiting list.

Advice for better treatment results

There are some important things you can do along the way to improve the end result and to speed up your treatment time.


keep your appointments

You must attend regularly for adjustments, usually every 6 to 8 weeks. Unsupervised wear of braces can damage the teeth and gums. Treatment will therefore involve numerous visits and possible time off school or work.

look after your brace!

Treatment typically takes 18 to 24 months depending on how complex your treatment is. Please note that treatment time can be lengthened by breakages, missed appointments and not following the orthodontist’s instructions.

orthodontic therapist

During your course of treatment you may be treated by one of our orthodontic therapists. The therapists have been awarded the Diploma in Orthodontic Therapy from the Faculty of General Dental Practice of the Royal College of Surgeons England and are highly skilled and experienced. The therapist works to the prescription of the specialist orthodontist in charge of your care and you should follow their advice and instructions as this will ensure the best possible results.

emergencies and breakages

If anything breaks you must contact the practice as soon as possible (usually at 9am the next working day) for advice and if necessary to arrange an emergency
appointment for a repair.

keep your normal dental check-ups

You should continue to attend regular check-ups with your family dentist during orthodontic treatment.

retainers

After your brace is removed, there is usually 1 year of supervised retention with a passive appliance (a retainer) to hold the teeth in their new position. If these are not worn your teeth may slip back towards their crooked state before treatment. Changes in tooth position will occur naturally with age so in every case we always advise that you to continue to wear your retainers for as long as possible (lifelong) to keep your lovely new smile looking its best.

FAQs

If you have any questions about your treatment journey, you can ask your treatment coordinator at any point along the way. Also, your orthodontist will be very happy to explain anything in more detail at your appointments. In the meantime, here are some of the most common questions we are asked:


Which brace is the best?

We use a range of braces for their different levels of visibility and affordability. But all the braces we offer are extremely effective. We would not offer them if we didn’t have absolute faith in the results they achieve. It also depends on how you define ‘best’. If you want a low cost brace then the metal brace is the best. If you want a discreet brace then the ceramic brace is the best. If you want a completely hidden brace then the incognito brace is the best. If you want a removable brace then Invisalign is the best. We will discuss what is most important to you and help you make the right decision.

Will I need to wear a retainer?

Yes, particularly in the first year after your braces are removed you will be either fitted with a permanent retainer or a removable one. You may wish to continue wearing a retainer
after the first year, we recommend lifelong use of a retainer. Your teeth will naturally move as you get older too, so it will help to keep your teeth in their position.

If I choose to go private will I have to wait?

No, if you choose to go ahead with orthodontic treatment privately we will be able to start your treatment straightaway.

How do I choose which brace I should have?

If you choose to pay for your orthodontic treatment you will be advised which brace systems are the best for you and the results you want to achieve. There is usually a choice between 2 or 3 different types of brace and it really comes down to a balance between how discreet you would like your brace to be, how quickly you’d like it to work and how much you can afford. We will help you work through all the pros and cons to make the right decision for you.