The right treatment for you

We are proud to say that we have been providing NHS and private orthodontic treatment at our Practice in Christchurch for the past 30 years.  During this time the circumstances in which we are able to offer patients treatment on the NHS have changed according to Government guidelines but the service that we deliver to both our NHS and private patients continues to be of the highest quality. 

It is always our wish to offer NHS orthodontic treatment where possible and so the decision about which route to take depends on your clinical needs, personal circumstances and the length of time you are prepared to wait for treatment.  

If you would like to discuss the options further before making a decision, then our staff will be happy to help you. 


We have agreed with NHS England to provide NHS orthodontic services for patients who are under the age of 18 at the time of assessment and who are also assessed as having a significant dental health need.  Your dentist will be able to advise you whether an NHS orthodontic referral is appropriate.

In general children are covered for NHS treatment if there is a ‘demonstrable’ dental health need which is measured by what’s known as the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need.  This is a way of identifying the more severe cases and deciding who would benefit most from orthodontic treatment.  Therefore in certain mild cases where dental health is not affected orthodontic treatment cannot be provided under the NHS.  NHS treatment is not available to patients who are over the age of 18 at the time of assessment. 

What is the Index of Treatment Need (IOTN)? 

More information about IOTN can be found on the British Orthodontic Society website

The current NHS guidelines, require that all orthodontists within the NHS have been trained to measure the dental health need of each child using the same criteria which is known as the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need.  This measures the appearance and arrangement of the teeth. 

The Dental Health Component (DC) 

This is an assessment of the arrangement of the teeth on a scale from 1 to 5 indicating those who will benefit the least (IOTN = 1) and those who will benefit the most (IOTN = 5) from orthodontic treatment.   

Patients who have the greatest health need and score IOTN 4 and above qualify for NHS orthodontic treatment. 

The Aesthetic Component (AC) 

The NHS does realise that some children need orthodontic treatment just because the appearance of their teeth is unattractive.  The Aesthetic Component is another aspect of the scoring and may be used for border-line cases where the dental health need is scored at IOTN 3.  If the patient has a high AC score (6 or above), NHS treatment is permissible. 

Your NHS Assessment

At your first appointment you will have an x-ray taken and a full dental examination to see whether you will benefit from treatment and whether it can be funded by the NHS.  Plaster models of your teeth may also be taken, particularly if your IOTN score is border-line so that it can be assessed in more detail after you have left the surgery.  Under these circumstances we will arrange a further appointment so that we can let you know the decision as to whether NHS treatment can be offered.   

If some of your permanent teeth are still coming through, you will be given a review appointment for when you are older so that any changes resulting from continued growth can be monitored.   

Unfortunately you will have to wait for NHS treatment.  Therefore if the assessment shows your treatment can be funded by the NHS and that you are ready to start treatment, you will be placed on the waiting list at this stage. 

NHS Appointments 

On average treatment usually takes 12-24 months to complete but more complicated orthodontic problems may take slightly longer.  During this time you will need to see us every few weeks for check ups and adjustments to the braces. We realise that this can be difficult for students particularly leading up to and during exam times and so we will do our best to offer you appointments that cause the least disruption.  If possible, it is always a good idea to bring your exam timetable with you so we can work out when to book your next appointment.   

However, whilst we understand that parents would prefer their child not to miss school and that they themselves do not want to miss work in order to attend an orthodontic appointment, owing to the number of school age patients that attend our practice, appointments outside of school hours are limited and not routinely available.   

The check appointments are often very quick and we will always do our best to see you at the appointed time but unfortunately there are times when the clinics do run behind.  Therefore we ask for your co-operation and understanding if you are kept waiting. 

You can help with the smooth running of the clinics by arriving on time for your appointment and with your brace intact.  If your brace breaks please contact us immediately to arrange an emergency appointment.  Do not wait for your next routine appointment as we will not have allotted sufficient time to repair your brace as well as make the adjustments that will be required.  The unplanned extra time needed will mean the clinic will run late for those attending after you and so we would greatly appreciate your help in keeping the wait for all patients to a minimum. 

Also if you need to cancel an appointment, we would appreciate at least 24 hours notice so that the appointment time can be offered to someone else and is not wasted.



There is often a time in our lives when we decide that we want to make changes about the way we look – including our smile.  Adult orthodontics is becoming more and more popular as people realise that they don’t have to live with teeth that stick out or are crooked.

Having a great smile may be far more achievable and affordable than you realise and need not involve showing a mouth full of metal and wire.  

We can offer tooth coloured brackets.  They work in the same way as the metal brackets but are far less obvious and so are a perfect alternative.  

If however you want your braces to be as invisible as possible and your lifestyle to be disrupted as little as possible, then Invisalign® may be your preferred choice.  Invisalign® will straighten your teeth using clear, removable aligners that are more convenient to use than fixed braces. 

Another option is a Lingual Appliance. This is a fixed brace placed on the inside surface of the teeth and so is completely invisible from the outside. The gold brackets and the arch-wires are custom made in a laboratory to fit your mouth precisely. 

Many parents are choosing private treatment for their children.  This may be because they wish their child to have orthodontic treatment that is considered to be cosmetic and therefore not funded by the NHS or in more severe cases parents may wish to start treatment immediately and avoid the NHS waiting list.  Private appointments can also be made outside of school hours and so parents may prefer to access treatment that causes as little interruption to their child’s school life as possible.  
There is also more choice about the type of brackets or appliance young people can have.  Metal brackets will keep the cost down but if there is a choice - teenagers tend to opt for the tooth coloured brackets!  

Metal brackets (left), compared to tooth coloured brackets (right) 

Invisalign® also offer Invisalign Teen® and so now there is the opportunity for young people to improve their smile without feeling self conscious about wearing braces. 

If you would like more information about the various options available, call the practice and a member of our staff will be happy to help you.  They will also be able to book you a consultation appointment with one of our orthodontists. 

Private Consultation 

We feel it is important that we listen to what you want.  That way we can plan the right treatment to give you the results you want in the way that you want it.  

At your first appointment we will take an x-ray to check that your teeth and the surrounding gum, ligaments and jaw bone are suitable for orthodontic treatment.  We will then chat about the changes you'd like to make to your smile and your expectations of what orthodontic treatment can achieve.  It is important that these expectations are realistic and so we will discuss the options available to you and suggest which appliances will produce the most favourable result for your needs. We will also tell you how long your treatment will take and how much it will cost.  

We want you to feel perfectly happy with your decision about whether orthodontic treatment is right for you and so we would encourage you to go away and think about all that has been discussed during the consultation.  You may wish to bring a friend, relative or partner with you to help absorb all the information given and if you have any further questions following your consultation, we would be more than happy to answer them.  We do ask that all children under the age of 18 are accompanied by an adult. 

However, if during the consultation you are certain that you want to go ahead with treatment, we will also take plaster moulds of your teeth and will arrange your next visit following which you will be provided with a written treatment plan. 

Interest Free Payment Plans 

We aim to make private treatment as affordable as possible. Therefore we offer the option of spreading the payment of fees over the treatment period. 

If you wish to have a consultation to discuss all the various options for private treatment then you can contact us directly for an appointment or complete the self-referral form below. 


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