By now you know you will have quite a long wait for an appointment to assess whether you or your child qualifies for NHS orthodontic treatment. And sometimes you only find out after an annoyingly long wait. Here is why and what your alternatives are for getting braces in a timely way.
If orthodontic treatment is needed, you have to decide whether to have treatment privately or on the NHS. In many cases, the cost of private orthodontics makes sense. But first, you should be made aware that you are not automatically entitled to receive treatment at the expense of the NHS. Sure, being fitted with braces is seen as a rite of passage; it is so normal as to be expected. But not everyone qualifies.
Who Qualifies for NHS Funding?
Access to NHS orthodontic treatment is now determined by two factors:
- Clinical need: Orthodontics is now rationed by the Department of Health to those children with the greatest need for treatment. This need is determined by the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need.
- Age: Another factor that determines whether or not a prospective orthodontic patient has access to NHS orthodontic treatment is age. Funding is only available to patients below the age of 18. Your Dentist will need to refer you to us by the age of 16 ½ due to the length of the waiting list.
Okay, so that is all well and good but, what is the reason for all the red tape and the long wait? The root of the problem goes back to April 2006 and the introduction of a new dental contract which outlined the eligibility criteria for NHS orthodontic treatment, as well as the number of our patients that can receive funding for orthodontic treatment each year. If you or your child does qualify, you are placed on our list in the order in which we receive a notification. This has resulted in NHS waiting lists to ensure that patients are seen in the order in which they approach us for treatment.
What Are My Alternatives?
The good news is that there are alternatives to the draconian waiting times. We at Forest & Ray Dental Clinic can help. During the consultation at Forest & Ray, our orthodontist will be able to spell out your options including avoiding the NHS waiting quagmire. You may want to consider self-funded private orthodontic treatment. Private orthodontics does not require a dentist referral and is not dependent on NHS funding. Therefore, treatment can start within a matter of weeks.
Should you decide to go ahead with private treatment either because your child does not qualify for NHS treatment, or because you would like to start treatment straight away, we can help. We will explain all the possible orthodontic treatment options and offer competitive prices with extended and possibly interest-free payments. You will receive a fixed price quotation for the cost of your treatment, so no surprises or hidden extra costs.
When you are contemplating a life-long investment such as straighter teeth and a winning smile, you may find that the seemingly high cost of private orthodontic treatment, when a one’s lifetime is taken into account, is not such a great expenditure at after all. So, why not contact Forest & Ray today?