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NHS Orthodontic Treatment

Do I qualify for NHS treatment?

The Exeter Orthodontic Practice has recently been awarded two contracts by NHS England, allowing us to provide orthodontic treatment for eligible patients. As well as providing orthodontic services in our main practice in Exeter, we also provide out-reach assessment clinics in Honiton, Tiverton and Okehampton.

To qualify for NHS orthodontic treatment, patients are assessed using nationally agreed guidelines that were first introduced in 2006. The guidelines are called the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (I.O.T.N.) and look at every aspect of the bite.

Our orthodontic specialists are trained to carefully assess the need for treatment carefully, by using IOTN, please look at the British Orthodontic Society website for more information (

Provided the patient meets the criteria they will be eligible for orthodontic treatment funded by the NHS.  Examples of these bite problems include:

  • Significantly crowded teeth


  • Reverse bite


  • Protruding teeth


  • Impacted (buried) teeth


  • Missing teeth

Severe overcrowding

Significantly crowded teeth

Anterior crossbite

Reverse bite (anterior crossbite)

Protruding upper incisors

Protruding upper incisors (increased overjet)

X-ray showing Impacted (buried) upper right canine tooth

X-ray showing multiple missing teeth

Do I have to pay for NHS orthodontic treatment?

The NHS funds all the costs of orthodontic treatment for children who qualify according to the set IOTN criteria. The only exception is the charge for replacement of removable appliances lost or damaged beyond repair (£80.70 from April 2019).

The NHS contract for orthodontics funds all appliances, adjustments and repairs required during the entire treatment. The practitioner is free to choose whatever technique and appliance s/he wishes within these requirements. S/he is not under an obligation to use or offer any particular appliance. It is not permitted to charge patients under the age of 18 for an appliance or any part of the treatment, nor to insist that part of the treatment is undertaken privately before acceptance as an NHS patient. To do so is, in effect, asking to be paid twice and would be a serious breach of NHS regulations.

American Orthodontics brackets

Is there a waiting list?

The Exeter Orthodontic Practice does not have a waiting list for older children or for those patients with more significant bite problems. It is usually best to plan orthodontic treatment when the adult teeth have grown through and when the jaws have had time to grow and develop, for this reason, younger patients may be advised to wait a while.

What can I do if the NHS will not fund treatment for my child?

If your child is not judged to have a dental health need for orthodontic treatment, you may wish to seek treatment on a private basis. The Exeter Orthodontic Practice offers a range of treatments and payments options which will be explained to you by your orthodontist.

How do I get referred for an orthodontic examination?

If you would like your child to have an orthodontic consultation, please ask your dentist to provide a referral to us. If the bite problem is very mild, they may suggest a private referral instead.

Adult patients who wish to be seen for a private consultation are welcome to use the self-referral form on our website.

Exeter Orthodontic Practice