N. Ireland may eliminate free orthodontic care

Most parents in Northern Ireland will be expected to pay for their children's braces under new proposals designed to reduce pressure on National Health Service (NHS) finances.

Under the terms of the proposals, only those children whose teeth fall below the minimum standard would receive free treatment, according to an article on egovmonitor.com.

The Northern Ireland Executive has proposed adopting an internationally accepted grading system of 1 to 5, in which 1 is almost perfect teeth and 5 is the worst possible conditions. Under the current rules, patients qualify for free braces from the NHS if they reach level 3; under the new proposed rules, patients would have to be in grade 4 or 5 to become eligible for such treatment.

The British Dental Association has opposed the move, arguing that it is inherently unfair and those on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale would suffer most from the new rules.

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