NHS treatment eligibility

The NHS has very strict criteria when it comes to covering orthodontic treatment, but we are here to help you understand if you or your child qualifies. Below is information on eligibility and what to do if you don’t qualify.

NHS treatment eligibility

Is my child eligible for NHS treatment?

We welcome referrals for NHS treatment for patients aged 17 or under. This referral must come via your general dentist. If you or your child is over the age of 17, they will not qualify for NHS treatment.

Once we have received your referral, we arrange your free NHS assessment appointment to check if you are eligible for NHS treatment. In a 15-30 minute consultation, we will assess your child’s teeth using the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN).

At your consultation appointment, we let you know your IOTN score. A score of 4 or 5 means you are immediately eligible for NHS orthodontic treatment. Even if you are eligible, the waiting lists to start treatment can be very long.

If you are not eligible for NHS treatment, we will offer you a choice of private treatments, including Invisalign® treatment if suitable. Our Treatment Coordinator will discuss all the options to help you make the best choice for you and your child.

Is my child eligible for NHS treatment?

The Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need

The Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN) is used to assess if a child qualifies for NHS treatment.

The IOTN scale is split into dental health and aesthetic scores, each represented by a number. You will be given a dental health grade from 1-5 and an aesthetic score from 1-10. You will be eligible for free NHS treatment if the overall score is determined to be 3.6 or higher.

Grade 1 - treatment not needed

Teeth are near perfect and braces are not needed for health reasons.

Grade 2 - treatment not needed

Minor irregularities present, such as slightly protruding upper front teeth, and braces are not needed for health reasons.

Grade 3 - borderline

Greater irregularities present. Grade 3 is considered borderline, so you will only be eligible for NHS treatment if your aesthetic score is deemed 6 or higher.

Grade 4 - treatment needed

More extensive irregularities, and treatment is needed for health reasons. Issues include upper front teeth that protrude by more than 6mm, lower front teeth that protrude more than 3.5mm and open bits greater than 4mm.

Grade 5 - treatment needed

Severe irregularities, with treatment needed for dental health reasons. Issues include missing teeth, protruding upper front teeth by more than 9mm and cleft lip and palate.

What does NHS treatment include?

The NHS only covers treatment with traditional metal fixed braces. They can be personalised using colourful elastics, which can be changed at regular 6-8 weekly adjustment appointments. If you would like treatment other than metal braces, you should opt for private treatment.

What does NHS treatment include?

Want to skip the waiting lists?

If your child doesn’t qualify for treatment, or you don’t want to wait years to get started, we are happy to explore options for private treatment. Our team offers flexible payment plans that can help you fit your child’s new smile into your budget.

Want to skip the waiting lists?