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A-Z Services - Specialist Surgery - Orthodontics

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Information for people having treatment at RD&E during Coronavirus (COVID-19)

About our service

Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that specialises in the development of the face, jaws and teeth.


Our orthodontic department receives referrals from General Dental Practitioners and other Specialist Orthodontists for NHS consultations and, if appropriate, for treatment. The service is led by three Orthodontic Consultants who are supported by an Orthodontic Therapist, Speciality Doctor as well as nurse, technician and secretarial teams. We work closely with our surgical colleagues in the Oral and Maxillofacial Unit as well as enjoy excellent links with the South West Cleft Lip and Palate service based in Bristol.


In addition our team provides orthodontic postgraduate training to two Specialty Training Registrars. We also supply limited training to the undergraduates from the Peninsula Dental School.


Types of treatment

Each patient we assess is scored for their treatment need. This is an assessment of the severity of the patient condition and what treatment is needed from a clinical point of view. Within the hospital setting we comply with national guidance on the types of orthodontic conditions that would be appropriate for treatment within the department.


Treatment that can be provided within the department includes:

We also provide advice and treatment plans for other health care professionals in the community. This is in line with national practice for orthodontic secondary care and in agreement with the British Orthodontic Society.


We endeavour to see patients in the shortest possible time in order to give advice, treatment plan or treat as necessary.


What patients can expect on arrival for your first visit

We are based at Heavitree Hospital in Exeter on level 3. Please follow the signs as you enter the hospital. There is a small, very busy car park, therefore, please travel by public transport or use the park and ride whenever possible. The department itself has a calm welcoming atmosphere with a light, open-plan and air-conditioned clinic devoted entirely to orthodontics.


Orthodontics DepartmentWhen you come into the department clinic area you will need to tell our receptionist that you have arrived. You will be asked to confirm some personal details to check our records are up to date. On your first visit you will be asked to complete a short medical history.


You will be asked to take a seat in our waiting area. This is light and airy and we have supplied lots of useful information for you to read which are on posters or on our rolling screen. This area serves several different clinics and therefore patients who arrived after you may be called first.


There may be dental students observing your consultation. If you would prefer not to have a student present during your appointment please let a member of the team know.


During your consultation you may need to have a radiograph taken. This is a picture of your teeth so that we can decide on your treatment plan and monitor progress of your treatment. Most radiographs are taken within the department by one of the dental nurse team. On occasions we may need to send you to the X-ray department at Wonford Hospital for an additional type of radiograph but this will be discussed with you. On average your overall appointment time will be approximately 60 minutes so please ensure you have accommodated for this when planning your visit.


Following completion of your consultation your own dentist who referred you to us will receive a summary of the consultation usually within two weeks of your visit, with details of any further treatment that may be needed. You may need to come for further appointments with us for further investigations or treatment.


The British Orthodontic Society provides really good advice on what to expect on your first visit. This may be really useful for younger children or patients with additional needs. Please click on the links below:


Your first visit to the orthodontist So you're going to see the orthodontist


Keeping your appointment. If for any reason you cannot attend your appointment with us please give us a much notice as possible and call us so we know that you will not be coming in. This enables us to give your treatment slot to another patient and avoids wasting NHS resources.


What patient can expect when returning for treatment

If you need to return to see us to start treatment you may visit one of the orthodontic team. Before treatment starts you will be seen on the hygiene clinics by one of the dental nurses to highlight the importance of keeping your teeth clean and sticking to a good diet especially whilst having your orthodontic treatment. You will also be seen by the Orthodontic Therapist to take moulds and photographs of your teeth.


Following this the Orthodontist in charge of your treatment will discuss your treatment and the types of braces that will be needed. As part of your treatment you may need to see our surgical colleagues to carry out treatment such as uncovering buried teeth. On other occasions we may ask your General Dental Practitioner to carry out some straightforward treatment prior to fitting your braces.


Depending on the type of treatment you require you will need to see us regularly (every 8 weeks) for approximately 18 – 30 months.


Please see links below to the British Orthodontic Society that supply useful information:


How to keep your teeth and gums healthy Orthodontic treatment Orthodontic treatment - what are the risks?


If you are being referred to us to consider treatment involving braces and surgery then the following link will give lots of useful advice to help you make a decision:


Your jaw surgery


South west Cleft Lip and Palate Service

Cleft Care in the South West of England is provided by a regional team based in Bristol. The Royal Devon and Exeter is a spoke unit for the Regional Cleft Lip and Palate Service. Patients are seen from babies until 18 years of age regularly in order to monitor and plan their treatment. The Exeter team liaises closely with the Bristol team to share the care locally.


Research within the department

The department has collaborated with research projects undertaken by postgraduates trainees, and other multi-centre studies. There is a current study looking at oral health related quality of life of orthodontic patients. As a team we are keen to ensure we keep appraised with the most up to date aspects of orthodontic treatment so we can offer the very best to our patients.


We are proud of our department. A recent patient satisfaction survey showed excellent positive results for:

Orthodontic Department Patient Experience Questionnaire 2019