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NHS availability

All patients can have an NHS consultation if 17 or under and referred by their dentist.

At the consultation you will be told if brace treatment for your particular problem will be paid for by the NHS.  This is assessed by a scale called IOTN that every orthodontist with an NHS contract has to abide by. 

What is the IOTN?


The IOTN is a system that allocates a score to a patient’s teeth.  The score consists of two numbers, the first from 1 to 5, is measured by the Orthodontist and is a measure of the severity of the problem (1 being mild and 5 severe).  The second number (from 1 to 10) is a measure of the appearance of the teeth and is obtained by comparing the patient’s teeth to a set of 10 photographs.  The second number is only applied to teeth with a first score of 3 (i.e. teeth in the middle of the range).


For example, you may have a stuck tooth, under the gum, which would be classed as an IOTN 5 (i.e. severe).


You may have moderately crooked teeth which may look good giving you a score of 3:3.


Very slight irregularity of the teeth would be classed as IOTN 1 or 2 (i.e. mild).


How does the IOTN work in deciding whether I can have NHS treatment?


The NHS will cover the costs for the following cases:

1: Those with an IOTN first score of 4 or 5.

2: Those with a first score of 3 with a second score of 6 or above (i.e. moderately crooked teeth that have a poor appearance).


The NHS will not pay for the following

1: Those with an IOTN first score of 1 or 2.

2: Those with a first score of 3 with a second score of 5 or below.


If you have a low score


There are a number of good reasons why the NHS will not pay for minor corrections to be carried out.  The two main reasons are that, if the teeth already look good, then any improvement will not be massive and, secondly, that minor problems have a tendency to come back.  Most patients with a low score decide to leave their teeth as they are.


Your orthodontist will tell you if correction of your teeth is worthwhile and of the risks and benefits so that you can make an informed decision.

*Currently, you are looking at 9 weeks for an NHS consultation appointment and if you are ready and qualify for NHS treatment, there is currently a wait of 12-18 months to start treatment with NHS fixed braces. This is due to the number of referrals/patients we receive; our NHS contract only allows us to treat a certain number of cases per financial year.  However, approximately 70% of patients seen upon first referral are not usually ready for treatment, so please do not let this deter you from being initially referred to Witney Brace Place. 

When visiting the practice, please only do so if you have an appointment booked. Please do not attend if you are experiencing COVID symptoms, should be isolating, are awaiting a COVID test result, or have been abroad in the last 10 days. The front door will be locked, so when attending please press the buzzer to announce yourself for your appointment. Those in active treatment, please try, if at all possible, to attend alone. 

Site updated 15-06-2021