Orthodontic Choices: Brace Treatment Guidance for Parents

This guide looks to help parents of children who have been recommended by their dentist that they should have an orthodontic assessment as they have noticed, or have mentioned to their dentist, that their son or daughter’s teeth are:

When an opinion and possible treatment is needed it’s important to know what your choices are for their treatment. This blog provides an overview of orthodontic assessment and treatment and how you can access these services.

We are an Exeter dentist, based in the heart of the city, making us readily available to many. Our Specialist Orthodontist, Ben Buffham, is able to offer all of the orthodontic treatments outlined within this guide. Click here to get in contact with us and book an appointment.

What is an orthodontic assessment?

In order to decide on the treatment needed by your child, a referral is made for them to see a specialist orthodontist, either at a hospital or practice near you. The orthodontist will examine your child’s teeth and jaws to “diagnose” what is wrong with the teeth and plan on how they will correct them. This is the most important stage of the journey – getting this part right will help direct the treatment correctly.

NHS assessment

Since 2006 stricter rules have been applied to patients to qualify for orthodontic treatment.

Currently, children under 18 who have an IOTN of 4 or 5 are automatically eligible. If your son or daughter has an IOTN 3 score this is in the “borderline” category for treatment and there is a further aesthetic score applied to them. In order to qualify IOTN 3’s have to have an aesthetic score of 6 or above. The orthodontist will inform you of the IOTN score at your assessment.

Since 2006 the funding for growth in orthodontic services has been restricted, so if there is a growth in the demand for treatment then it means there is not enough service provision – this is why some practices in the country have waiting lists for assessments and treatment where there is high demand.

New NHS contracts commence in April 2019 which may result in longer waiting times for assessment and treatment, but this is not necessarily an issue for your child, especially if they are under 13 years of age. For children 13 years or older, do consider when their treatment is going to start – it could overlap important school periods like GCSEs or A Levels. Also be aware that during treatment you may have to bring them to appointments during school or work hours.

Private consultation

As an alternative, you may want to consider having an assessment done privately, especially if your son or daughter is desperate to have their teeth fixed. You are likely to be seen in a matter of weeks rather than months, and you can still find out if your son or daughter would qualify for NHS treatment if that is what you want. The other benefits include earlier assessments (before the age of 10), more range of treatment options and no waiting list for treatment. If they’re ready to start treatment then they can go ahead within a few weeks of their assessment.

Ben Buffham, our Specialist Orthodontist offers convenient Saturday appointments here at Exeter Advanced Dentistry to avoid taking your child out of school for an appointment.

Specialist orthodontist Ben Buffham

Brace treatment options

Fixed braces

For most teenagers, treatment will be with fixed (train track) braces. They will be made of stainless steel so will show as grey/silver squares on their teeth with a silver wire running through them.

To begin with braces will be a little uncomfortable as they will rub on the inside of the lips and cheeks and the teeth will feel sore. Fortunately, this is usually short-lived.

Some patients will need to have teeth removed in order to get the best outcome so be prepared for this when treatment is discussed with you. Don’t be afraid to ask the orthodontist the reasons for any extractions requested and whether there are any alternative treatments possible.

Removable braces

A removable brace is generally recommended for younger patients, who still have some baby teeth present such as to correct a narrow upper jaw or cross-bites, protruding front teeth.

Both of these options are available on the NHS for your son or daughter’s treatment where necessary. They will also provide one pair of nighttime retainers after the treatment is completed which are recommended for long term wear to control future tooth movement.

Self-funded or private treatment gives you access to a greater range of treatment for your son or daughter including cosmetic (less visible) brace options, Invisalign or even braces fitted on the inside surface of the teeth. These types of treatment might be more desirable for more image-conscious older teenagers or any budding musicians/ actors / singers.

Invisalign braces are only available privately, but do offer potential advantages over other types of braces, namely; they are almost invisible, easier to tolerate, removable for activities such as music/singing/sports and are removable for cleaning so dental and gum health should be easier to maintain. Modern advances in Invisalign technology mean that Invisalign clear removable aligner braces are now available for a wider range of ages and orthodontic problems, even when some baby teeth are still present.

We have payment plans with affordable monthly payments to spread the fees for treatment.

A dentist based in the heart of Exeter, we offer general dentistry treatments, as well as orthodontic and cosmetic treatments.

If you would like to get in contact with us or book an appointment, please click here.

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