Children’s orthodontics: NHS v Private Braces


Children's Orthodontics | Manchester Orthodontics

Today’s teenagers are very conscious about appearance. With selfies and social media focusing so much attention on what they look like, it is common for youngsters to recognise flaws in their teeth and therefore be inquisitive about braces. For those who don’t qualify for NHS treatment, private braces are the perfect solution to straightening out crooked teeth and closing gaps to give children a smile they are confident in. 

Before we look at the advantages of private orthodontic treatment, we first need to look at whether your child is suitable for NHS treatment.

Is my child eligible for NHS braces?

With orthodontic treatment for people under the age of 18 in high demand, the government introduced the ‘Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need’ (IOTN) in order to assess the eligibility of each patient to free NHS care.

IOTN is distinguished by a 5-grade system that classes the severity of a child’s orthodontic needs. Children judged to be in the fifth and fourth grade (suffering from severe misalignment or irregularities) are entitled to NHS care.

Children falling within the third grade are assessed on a case-to-case basis, whilst those falling into Grades 1 and 2, where orthodontic issues are commonly more cosmetic than functional, are unlikely to be eligible for NHS treatment.

If your child doesn’t qualify for orthodontic treatment with the NHS there are still plenty of options available, especially when it comes to teeth straightening procedures. Here we explain a few of the key advantages of private braces when compared to state-subsidised treatment:

Shorter waiting times

Even if your child qualifies for free NHS orthodontics, there is still likely to be a waiting period before treatment can be performed. Private practices offer a far more flexible time frame and extended appointment schedules, meaning essential treatment can begin sooner.


Private orthodontic practices will offer a high level of aftercare that may not be accessible through the NHS. This includes regular check-ups to ensure that treatment is working well, that the teeth and gums are healing, and that good oral health is maintained.

Product range

Because the service is free, NHS orthodontic care can be limited in the range of treatment options available. NHS teeth straightening is normally performed with traditional metal ‘train-track’ braces which are highly visible, whereas private braces patients can choose from a broader range of products. This includes ‘invisible’ brace systems such as Invisalign, which are more subtle and preferred by children who are sensitive about the appearance of their teeth. 

Sorting problems earlier

As with most dental problems, it is always advisable to apply treatment at the earliest possible opportunity. Private orthodontic treatment at a young age can help to identify and fix potential issues that could become more problematic or expensive to fix in later life.

Find out more

If you would like to learn more about the NHS and private orthodontic care options for your children, please call the helpful team at Northenden House Orthodontics on 0161 998 622 to discuss our range of treatments.

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  • Mohammad Malik
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