Why have orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontics is the dental speciality concerned with the alignment of teeth. Your child’s orthodontist will use fixed metal braces or removable braces to straighten their teeth and/or improve their bite and facial profile. This can improve the health and longevity of your child’s teeth and gums and improve their smile.
How does my child get to see an NHS orthodontist?
All patients aged 18 and under are eligible for an NHS clinical assessment once they have been referred by their dentist.
Your child’s dentist must believe their dental health can be improved with orthodontic treatment and that your child is motivated to wear braces, has no other major problems with their teeth that will interfere with braces, and has good oral hygiene.
The dentist will send us a referral form saying why they think your child might be eligible for NHS treatment, which could include one or more of the following conditions:
- Significant crowding or spacing of teeth
- Overjet: when the lower teeth are too far behind the upper front teeth.
- Over bite: when the upper front teeth protrude over the lower front teeth, generally with no contact.
- Cross bite: when a tooth is either closer to the cheek or to the tongue than the corresponding tooth in the upper or lower dental arch.
- Open bite: when the upper and lower teeth don’t meet when the mouth is closed.
- Missing teeth.
- Impacted teeth (when teeth collide with each other in the mouth)
- Jaw discrepancies and cleft lip, palate or other craniofacial problems.
Your child’s dentist may want to provide the required NHS treatment themselves, in which case we will help them create a suitable treatment plan, and some patients are referred to us for advice only, for example when a dentist is unsure whether to extract the patient’s first permanent molars.
What happens in a clinical assessment?
All patients referred to us receive a clinical assessment. We measure your child’s teeth according to the Index of Treatment Need (IOTN), which aims NHS funding at patients for whom treatment will improve dental health, not just appearance.
Will NCOC give my child braces?
Yes, if your child scores 3.6 or above on the Index of Treatment Need (IOTN). Qualifying conditions include significant crowding or prominent teeth in excess of 6mm. The index is a fair and effective way of rationing the increasing expenditure by the NHS on orthodontics as braces become ever more popular.
Unfortunately if your child does not meet the IOTN criteria we are unable to offer treatment. Click here for information about private options.
Are there any fees?
No. The NHS funds all the work we do at NCOC.
What kind of braces will my child be able to get?
Children who qualify for NHS treatment are treated with fixed metal braces and removable appliances, which deliver excellent clinical outcomes. Other treatment options are available through private treatment, which your orthodontist will be able to discuss with you at your child’s clinical assessment. For more information visit Crocodile.
How long does treatment take?
Orthodontic treatment usually takes 18 to 24 months, followed by a period in which retainers must be worn. Timing will vary according to the complexity of each case.
How often will we need to visit the orthodontist?
In most cases braces will need to be adjusted every six to 12 weeks.
Isn’t it too early for my child to have braces?
In most cases it is far easier to straighten teeth in under-18s than it is in older people, and early treatment has the added benefit of avoiding permanent damage to your child’s teeth and gums from trapped food and poor oral hygiene, because straight teeth are easier to clean. Before treatment our patients nearly always have their second teeth through, unless there is another reason for early intervention such as an impacted tooth that needs urgent attention. Orthodontic treatment is a complex balancing act that exerts pressure on teeth over 18 to 24 months, while taking into account all the other forces at play in the mouth. If your child has qualified for treatment, all these complications will have been carefully considered by our specialist orthodontist.
What if my child feels self conscious with braces?
With the surge in popularity of orthodontic treatment among young people, braces are a far more common sight at school than they once were and so standing out is less of an issue. However, braces still take some getting used to and parents can really help in this regard by talking through the treatment with their child to make sure they understand the lifelong benefits they are actually very fortunate to be able to get.
Can I really stop my child eating sweets?
Expecting your child to avoid sweets, sugary snacks and fizzy drinks is a big ask, especially when their peers are consuming these kinds of things every day at school. It’s really important they understand that these foods and drinks can lead to enamel damage which means when the brace comes off their beautiful new straight teeth will be damaged permanently. With the increasing number of under-18s having orthodontic treatment in the UK, patients are no longer in such a minority and will likely feel a sense of solidarity with other friends and acquaintances in their school year groups, which helps — missing out is a lot easier if you’re not alone. We find that most of our patients adapt very quickly to the dietary requirements of wearing braces and have no problem meeting the extra level of dental hygiene either.
Can I opt for my child not to have braces?
If your child qualifies for treatment you are not obliged to accept it. You may prefer to arrange private treatment with a shorter waiting time at our recommended private Crocodile clinic, or opt for no treatment at all. One of our orthodontists will discuss the implications of no treatment with you and your child, which will likely mean worsening dental problems and in all probability the need for more serious treatment in adulthood.
Is there parking at NCOC?
Yes, there is free on-site parking.