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Fixed Braces for Kids: NHS Waitlist & Ineligibility

As per NHS reports, nearly one-third of children suffer from misaligned teeth or problems with their jaw that require undergoing orthodontic treatment. When they are teens, children’s jaw and mouth are yet developing, though they will grow their adult teeth by that time. The early teenage years are usually the correct time to correct bite issues. This can give your child the ultimate confidence in improving their smile. It is a great way to boost overall self-confidence.

The NHS provides free orthodontic treatment to those below 18 years old, provided they can fulfill strict criteria. The common offering is the traditional fixed braces, though the present wait time before your child may expect to get treatment from an NHS dentist.

When your kid needs orthodontic treatment

Maintaining routine dental appointments is necessary for your child. This will enable the dentist to assess the development of the jaw and dental cavity. The dentist may refer the child to an orthopedist when they detect alignment problems. This may include crossbite, open bite, under-bite, protruding, or crooked teeth.

These symptoms denote your kid may need orthodontic treatment:

  • Biting or chewing problems
  • Protruding teeth
  • Snoring
  • Speech impairment
  • Teeth do not meet properly when biting or when mouth is closed
  • Mouth breathing

Your first call when seeking orthodontic treatment for your kid will likely be through the NHS. Though Invisalign on NHS provides free orthodontics to the ones below 18 years, they should be able to meet certain medical criteria in order to get eligible.

NHS criteria for undergoing free orthodontic procedure below 18 years

The NHS does not have the proper resources to provide free fixed braces to kids with an irregular bite. Free treatment can be reserved for those under 18 years old and is considered essential for orthodontics.

A grading system is in place to determine if your kid meets these criteria. This is what you call the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Needs, which has five grades.

The dentist should be able to assess your child as having grade 4 or grade 5 on the index to be eligible for free braces on the NHS. These grades denote severe problems with a child’s bite that may lead to further health problems if not treated on time.

The dentist will consider aesthetics with a 10-point scale. When your kid scores 6 or above on this scale and has been graded three on the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need, they will qualify for free fixed braces on the NHS.

When the child does not meet the criteria, they will not be eligible for free treatment on the NHS. Even if your kid meets the criteria, there may be a lengthy delay before they can access their free orthodontics.

NHS Waiting List

The waiting list has been in the news recently, and this may apply to dental care. Even when your kid is able to fulfill the medical criteria for free orthodontic treatment, they may be on the waiting list between six months and two years. During this time, they can see their teeth shift further.

Detecting bite problems early is the ultimate key, and your child should visit a dentist from an early age. When there is a reference for orthodontic treatment in their mid-teens, your kid might be on the waiting list when they turn 18. Your kid may be ineligible for the treatment overnight without any fault.

Why the NHS waiting lists are very long

The lack of resources has led to an adverse storm for the NHS waiting lists. There has been a drop in the number of dentists providing NHS treatment which means there were fewer appointments available for the ones needing treatment.

Many appointments suddenly get canceled or delayed. Enhanced cleaning routines should be maintained, which means there will be fewer appointment slots at the NHS dental surgeries during your working day.

The need to go private

There is a tempting alternative for the parents whose kids are already on the long waiting list or the ones who seem to be ineligible for undergoing free treatment. These kids on the NHS can go private.

A major reason parents would like to choose private dental care is that their kid can obtain the treatment without delay. Having quicker access to the orthodontic treatment may lessen the risk of your kid’s teeth moving further while they are already on the waiting list.

Your child will not need any referral and the more timely treatment will help to avoid further dental health issues which may arise due to delayed treatment. It could even prevent costly treatment needed down the line for correcting health concerns caused from such a delay.

More orthodontic treatment options

Another benefit of private dental treatment is you have greater choices of orthodontic solutions. The free treatment provided by the NHS for qualifying below 18 years is the traditional fixed metal braces. Braces are not typically the aesthetic the average teenagers want though they are extremely effective.

Private dental clinics provide alternative orthodontic options, which are the following:

  • Ceramic braces

    These tooth colors are less visible when compared to traditional metal braces.

  • Invisalign

    The clear aligners are easy to remove and more discreet at the time of eating or brushing.

  • Lingual braces

    They can be fitted on the back of the teeth, making them far more discreet when they get fitted.

The cost of going private may differ based on the kind of treatment you need to perform and the provider you choose. As Invisalign treatment seems to be the best for your child, time may be of the essence before they reach adolescence.


If your kid is on the waiting list or is ineligible for performing free treatment on the NHS as they do not meet the criteria, private treatment can be a tempting option. The less noticeable braces offered by private dental clinics can encourage teens to more readily accept orthodontics, thus restoring the confident smile.

Read Also: Advantages of Private Heart Scans and Regular Heart Checkups



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