It’s no secret that most families are feeling the squeeze at the moment, with more and more people admitting to having less disposable income than in previous years. In the UK we are lucky to have a state-funded health system which means that health care does not have to become an unaffordable luxury. But what happens if your child needs orthodontic care that is not covered by the NHS? Could you afford to pay dental bills that can stretch into the thousands?
What’s the cost? Is it essential?
The cost of orthodontic treatment varies widely depending on the complexity of the individual’s orthodontic needs, the type of treatment and its duration. In some cases, the treatment is covered by the NHS and treatment is free for children, but this only relates to traditional fixed braces. Other treatment options are not available and cosmetic braces are not covered.
In the past, the choice of treatment was much more limited and patients now have a vast array of options. However, the super-modern cutting-edge treatments usually come with a hefty price tag, which could put them out of reach for many families. Some treatments such as the increasingly popular Invisalign invisible brace system cost in excess of £3000, which is a great deal of money for families, especially those who have a number of children and those living on low incomes. Less expensive options include the Inman Aligner, which costs around £1250- £2000 and Six Month Smiles braces, which will set you back around £1800- £2500.
This route is usually advised for people who have an abnormal bite and misaligned teeth. The alignment of the jaw joint and the bite is important and misalignment can cause problems with the function of the mouth, as well as the aesthetic of the smile. Dentists generally recommend addressing orthodontic problems during childhood because they tend to get worse with time and treatment for adults takes longer and will also usually cost more.
How to afford orthodontic treatment
Surveys show that many people are unaware of what treatment they are entitled to on the NHS and if you have a child with orthodontic problems, it is worth asking your dentist whether they would be eligible for free orthodontic treatment. This service is reserved for essential cases and non-essential cases will be dealt with by private dentists at a cost.
If you are advised that your child will need to see a private dentist or you want to pay for private treatment because you want your child to have a treatment that is not available on the NHS or you simply want them to have private dental care, there are ways of making treatment more affordable.
Most dental clinics and practices now offer finance options, which enable you to spread the cost of treatment over a period of 12, 24 or 36 months; many offer 0% finance for a set period of time, so spreading the cost should not cost you more. Patient dental plans may also save you money, as they usually offer discounts on treatments; in most cases, you pay a set monthly or annual fee in return for a number of check-ups and routine treatments and this also gives you access to emergency care, priority for booking appointments and discounts.