A dentist can request an NHS orthodontic assessment, if the orthodontic problem meets the general referral guidelines. For milder problems, a private consultation is possible. The first appointment is to assess the dental development, severity of the orthodontic problem and briefly discuss the options for treatment.
NHS Orthodontic treatment for children is limited to patients below 18 years, if the orthodontic problem is considered severe enough. The IOTN (Index of Treatment Need) classification is the deciding factor in whether or not a child will qualify for orthodontic treatment. There are 5 grades, classifying & measuring the worst features of the orthodontic problem. Most general dentists are not certified in its use and refer for NHS treatment using general “referral guidelines”.
- Grades 1 and 2 are too mild and no significant health benefit is to be gained with braces.
- Grades 4 and 5 are severe and easily qualify for NHS funding.
- Grade 3 is borderline and a child will only qualify if the appearance of the teeth is poor. The aesthetic component is determined by comparing the child teeth to a series of 10 photos. Grade 6 and above will qualify.
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NHS waiting list
Waiting lists exist because there is an annual orthodontic budget. There is a waiting list throughout the country for orthodontic treatment and it varies between 0-3 years. In Chichester the waiting times are over 3 years. However, practices in Shoreham and Horsham have no significant waiting lists and ask your dentist to refer you if you do not wish to wait in Chichester. Sadly, if a teenager passes their 18th birthday whilst on the waiting list, they will cease to qualify for state funding. Alternatively, some parents prefer to seek a private consultation and/or treatment.