Find out about accessing and funding for NHS treatment as well as the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN).
New NHS contracts for dentists in England and Wales were introduced in April 2006 to help dental services meet the needs of the local population. NHS Local Commissioning Teams have responsibility for commissioning services to meet the needs of the population in their areas.
All orthodontists must also have an NHS contract in order to provide treatment. The consequence of this is that in most areas there is insufficient contracted treatment to meet need and demand and this is limiting availability, leading to longer waiting lists.
The FAQ that follows is intended to provide answers to the most common questions and concerns with respect to NHS orthodontic treatment.
Do I have to pay for NHS treatment?
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The NHS funds all the costs of orthodontic treatment for children who qualify.
Why is there a waiting list?
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Since 2006, under the terms of the new contract, NHS Local Commissioning Teams have been able to control the size of contracts held by orthodontists. This means that sometimes there is a mismatch between the number of patients who want and qualify for treatment and the availability of funding, resulting in a waiting list.
Are there any charges for NHS treatment?
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The NHS funds all the costs of orthodontic treatment for children who qualify. The only exception is the charge for replacement of removable appliances lost or damaged beyond repair (£70.10- £140.20). In general, most orthodontic problems qualify for NHS treatment apart from minor irregularities,(assuming that the patient is otherwise in good dental health). There are clear criteria about who qualifies
What can I do if the NHS won't fund treatment for my child?
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If your child is not judged to have a dental health need, you may wish to seek private treatment.
What is the IOTN?
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The IOTN is used to assess the need and eligibility of children under 18 years of age for NHS orthodontic treatment on dental health grounds.
Moving & transferring children during treatment
It is undoubtedly preferable not to start treatment with one orthodontist and then to move on to another orthodontist in a different location. If you know you are about to move it is better to wait until you have arrived at your new location.
Read more: Moving & transferring children during treatment »