All children under the age of 18 are able to have an orthodontic assessment under the NHS. The NHS will pay for orthodontic treatment but only the more severe cases are covered under current rules - minor problems are not covered. Orthodontic treatment for children who qualify is free of charge. There are clear criteria (Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need – IOTN) about who qualifies. To find out more see the information on IOTN. However treatment for adults is not commonly funded by the NHS.
The NHS contract for orthodontics funds all braces, adjustments and repairs required during the entire treatment. The only exception is the charge for replacement of removable braces lost or damaged beyond repair. It is not permitted to charge patients under the age of 18 for a brace or any part of the treatment, nor to insist that part of the treatment is undertaken privately before acceptance as an NHS patient. Any such practice is a serious breach of NHS rules which renders the orthodontist/dentist liable to disciplinary action if reported to the local PCT/Health Board or the General Dental Council.
Fees for private orthodontic treatment vary widely. The fee varies due to the complexity (difficulty) of the problem, the locality, and the experience of the orthodontist/dentist. Certain techniques such as aligner systems or lingual braces are also more expensive. Prospective patients should always ask for information from the orthodontist/dentist. A written quotation will be given to you but is normally only possible after the orthodontist/dentist has had a chance to assess your problem at a consultation.