NHS orthodontic treatment is available for all children under the age of 18 years old, but that is dependent on the extent of their dental problems.
For most children an NHS dentist is their first port of call and any problem with the development of their adult teeth will be flagged up at a routine check-up.
However, due to the financial restraints of the NHS youngsters are graded on whether they qualify for NHS orthodontic treatment.
While ultimately only your NHS dentist will be able to tell you definitively whether your child qualifies for NHS orthodontic treatment, official guidelines may give you an indication.
The IOTN (Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need) sets out gradings for teeth irregularities, which are used to determine whether a child meets the criteria for NHS dental treatment.
A child with teeth classified as Grade 1 has teeth that are ‘almost perfect’. Grade 2 signifies slight irregularities, which would not be expected to cause any problems, such as teeth that protrude to a minor extent.
It is only when teeth fall into Grade 3 that a dentist may begin to consider a child’s suitability for NHS orthodontic treatment although these cases are certainly borderline and will only be put forward for treatment at the dentist’s discretion.
Grade 3 concerns include an open bite, unaligned teeth or protruding teeth to less than 4mm along with other relatively minor issues.
A child experiencing dental problems that fall within Grade 4 or Grade 5 should qualify for NHS treatment as these can affect the function of the mouth.
Grade 4 issues include: Upper teeth protruding more than 6mm, lower teeth protruding 3.5mm, having extra teeth and more seriously misalignment.
Grade 5 is classified as the most serious problems and includes missing teeth, overcrowding that prevents the growth of teeth and severely protruding teeth.
While those children most in need of NHS orthodontic treatment will receive it, the index does cause concern for parents of children who may fall into Grade 3.
While issues with the formation of adult teeth may not be a threat to function they can cause concerns about the cosmetic appearance of teeth. Added to this are concerns that the problem may worsen with age.
If your dentist does not agree to NHS orthodontic treatment an alternative is to seek private treatment.
By targeting the problem while a child is still growing, treatment will be faster and more effective than if left until adulthood.
Private orthodontic treatment is also available for children who would qualify for NHS care but who do not want to face a possible two-year wait for treatment.
If you feel that your child’s teeth would benefit from orthodontic care but they have not qualified for NHS orthodontic treatment private dental care could be the solution.
To make an appointment to discuss private orthodontic treatment for children contact Stoke Orthodontics.