What kind of dental problems can orthodontics help?
The purpose of orthodontic treatment is to make the best of your teeth. This includes allowing you to bite correctly, eat more comfortably and care for your teeth and gums more easily. And your smile will benefit too.
Treatment almost always involves using braces to straighten crooked, crowded or protruding teeth, close gaps between teeth and correct the bite of the teeth, so the top and bottom teeth meet when you close your mouth.
Treatment usually lasts from 18 months to two years, with visits to the orthodontist required every four to six weeks.
How common is orthodontic treatment?
Around one in three British children has crooked teeth and needs orthodontic treatment to straighten them.
Braces are usually more successful in children, and four out of five orthodontics patients are children. But more adults then ever now want treatment, many having missed out when they were children. According to the British Orthodontics Society, nearly 1 million people in the UK started orthodontic treatment in 2009.
Is it available on the NHS?
Orthodontic treatment is available free on the NHS for under-18s who need it. Treatment is also available on the NHS at the standard charge for complex dental treatment (just under £200) for adults who need it. However, adults who want orthodontic treatment to fix minor cosmetic problems aren’t eligible for NHS treatment.
Read more about the cost of orthodontics and orthodontic treatment available on the NHS.
Can I have private treatment?
Private treatment is widely available but expensive. The British Orthodontics Society (BOS) says fees vary, but are usually around £2,000 to £2,500. However, they can be much higher.
One advantage of private treatment is that you have a wider choice of braces, including clear or invisible ones.
What’s the best age to have treatment?
The ideal age to have orthodontic treatment is around 12 or 13, while you’re still growing. The opportunity for improvement in an adult is more limited and surgery is more likely to be needed.
How do I get treatment?
You need to be referred to an orthodontist by your dentist.
To find out more about your local orthodontists, or to request a referral to a specific orthodontist, you can use BOS’s online Find orthodontic treatment service.
The BOS website lists orthodontists of all levels of skill and competence. If you want to check the qualifications of your orthodontist, use the definitive list of specialist orthodontists held by the General Dental Council. By law, only registered specialists can call themselves a specialist orthodontist.
What are braces like?
There are many different types of braces. Some are removable, which you take out at night, to eat a meal or to clean them. Some are fixed and stay in all the time. NHS braces are made of metal, but plastic and ceramic ones are also available privately. Some of these are clear, so you can hardly see them on your teeth.
Read more about different types of braces.
How successful is it?
Orthodontics usually works very well, but it’s important to look after your teeth while you’re wearing a brace. Braces can trap food and cause more plaque to build up than usual. You need to take extra care cleaning your teeth and watch what you eat, for example by avoiding sugary foods and drinks. You also need to see your dentist regularly while having orthodontic treatment.
Read more about looking after your teeth while wearing braces.
What if I’m refused NHS treatment?
If you think you or your child is being refused NHS treatment unfairly or the waiting list for treatment is unreasonably long, contact your local Primary Care Trust (PCT). Find your nearest PCT.
Find out more about orthodontics or braces.