Accessing orthodontics 

Free orthodontic treatment is sometimes available on the NHS, although you can also pay for private treatment.

The starting point for both types of orthodontic care is usually your dentist, who may refer you to an orthodontist. You may also be able to seek treatment directly yourself.

Orthodontics on the NHS

Orthodontic treatment is only available at no cost on the NHS for young people under the age of 18.

NHS orthodontic care is not usually available for adults, but may be approved on a case-by-case basis if needed for health reasons.

A rating system known as the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN) is used to assess your eligibility for NHS treatment. The British Orthodontic Society's website has more information about the different grades used for the IOTN.

NHS treatment is available for grade 4 and grade 5 cases. Grade 3 cases are usually judged on an individual basis. Treatment may also be made available if the appearance of a person's teeth, jaw, or face is of concern.

In some parts of the country, there currently aren't enough trained NHS specialist orthodontists to meet patient demand. This means there may be a long wait for treatment, even if your child qualifies for NHS orthodontic treatment.

Waiting times for orthodontic treatment can range from six months to two years or more.

Private treatment

If you or your child don't qualify for NHS orthodontic treatment, or you don't want to wait for NHS treatment, you can pay for private treatment.

Private orthodontic treatment is widely available, but expensive. The fee can range from £2,000 to £6,000, depending on the complexity of the treatment and the type of appliances used. However, it can sometimes be even more than this.

A private orthodontist will give an estimate of the treatment cost after an initial assessment of the problem.

The BOS has an online service you can use to find orthodontic treatment in your area.

Page last reviewed: 11/12/2014

Next review due: 11/12/2016