Braces are in high demand in the UK and worldwide. In 2013 alone, more than one million British people, adults and children alike, started an orthodontic treatment. Now, more than ever before, people want a treatment, be it for cosmetic or other reasons, which means that more and more parents ask for NHS treatments. However, getting NHS braces is not always guaranteed, and you may as well be refused NHS braces. The law is seemingly clear and straightforward: Orthodontic treatment is available on the NHS (for free) for under 18-year-olds, who need it. This means that if you have a child younger than 18, they are eligible for NHS braces. Right? Well, NOT always! You see, the trick part of the regulation is the last one, the “who need it”. Who determines whether a child needs an orthodontic treatment on dental health grounds? Orthodontists using IOTN (Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need).

What is the IOTN Assessment?

The IOTN, with the unanimous consent of the British Orthodontic Society, is a measure of the necessity of an orthodontic treatment for children under 18. It is believed that if a treatment is to be rationed, there has to be a way to assess the children’s cases and decide on the ones that will benefit most from a treatment. That way, the limited NHS resources might be better (and fairer) prioritised.

The IOTN comprises the following: (1) The Dental Health Component, and (2) The Aesthetic Component, and are divided in grades from 1-5 with 1 being the closest to perfection and 5 the most severe dental problems, such as protruding upper teeth (> than 9mm), large number of teeth missing, cranio-facial anomalies, and teeth that can’t come into the mouth as supposed because of crowding or any other cause.

Where to Address If you are Refused NHS Treatment for your Child

So, what happens when you are denied NHS or are being put on an unreasonably long waiting list?

The first thing you can do is contact your local NHS branch. You can find a list of authorities and trusts per area, here. Besides that, you may want to seek private treatment. The best way to get around it is to get recommendations from either the BOS website or your dentist. Talk to other people that have had an orthodontic treatment for their child and get some personal recommendations from them as well.

If, for any reason, you feel that the assessment that your child has received is unfair, you should speak to the family dentist so that he arranges a second option. Additionally, you can address your local PCT (Primary Care Trust) and see what they have to say.

Finally, there are practices that offer payment options that make the cost of an orthodontic treatment manageable. Plus, if your child’s problem is minor, you can find treatments that will fix your child’s dental issue in a few months, which means the fees will probably be much less than you first imagined.


At Straight Teeth Suite in Nottingham, there are various finance plans to suit your budget. Feel free to take a look.

No one should decide whether your child needs an orthodontic treatment or not and no one has the right to deprive a child of a beautiful (and self-confidence boosting), straight smile. So, don’t hesitate. Contact us NOW and let’s find the best way to give your kid the smile they deserve!

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