Being a parent is an expensive business these days, so the thought of paying for them to have brace treatment may seem like an unnecessary cost especially as the NHS will fund treatment. Why pay for it if you can get it for free?
The awareness of orthodontic treatment has grown tremendously, and access to this service has become easier across the UK (with a few exceptions where patients may have to travel a bigger distance to get to them). The biggest issue for patients seeking NHS orthodontic treatment nowadays is higher demand and restricted resources. Contracts for delivering treatment are limited and have no growth potential so if the number of patients needing treatment increases they are more likely to have to wait to be seen.
Waiting for treatment is not a bad thing, after all most orthodontic treatment is cosmetic. However, studies show that orthodontic correction of teeth boosts a patient’s social and mental wellbeing, and has a positive impact on confidence. For the growing teenager, waiting for treatment to correct their prominent or wonky teeth may seem like a really big deal.
Once their treatment starts does it matter if they have metal train track braces – all braces do the same thing. The vast majority of adolescent patients will be more than happy with their metal braces, but others may get benefit from more cosmetic options (budding actors, singers/musicians) or solutions that fit better with their hobbies/lifestyle (like Invisalign Teen). These options are not available to the NHS patient.
Busy NHS practices are often patient rich and time poor, and this can translate to longer intervals between appointments. So an 18 month treatment may be stretched out to 2 years or more. Like many busy hospital departments, practices may double book slots and that inevitably leave patients waiting to be seen on the day.
Many of you will know that schools are getting stricter on missing lessons, even for dental and medical treatment. Parents are busy themselves and have to take time out of their schedule to transport their child to and from appointments.
So is paying for their treatment worth it? For some it will be a definite yes. Having access to more convenient appointments, a greater range of treatment and no waiting time to start braces will definitely be high on the wish list for them.
If that’s not important to you or your child, and they qualify for NHS treatment then going down the NHS route is perfectly acceptable too. But if you find yourself unhappy down the line with the NHS offering you may find it difficult to change direction once they have their brace in place. So consider all your options before you choose.
The important thing is to know you have a choice for your child’s treatment.