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Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry concerned with the development and growth of the teeth and jaws. Dental malocclusion (irregularity in the teeth) can arise from local causes such as missing or extra teeth and general causes such as disproportionate growth of one or both jaws.

Orthodontic management includes the early recognition and interception of dental malocclusion when it arises; so as to reduce the need for later, more complex treatment.

The department offers a full assessment and report for any patient referred with a potential problem. Referrals are usually received from dentists and doctors working in the primary care service and specialist colleagues in the secondary care service.

Treatment is offered in the department for patients who have a complex malocclusion and a high treatment need, and who often require multidisciplinary management.

More routine problems are returned to the primary care practitioner with a diagnosis and treatment plan to follow and where appropriate arrangements to review the patient over time.

Examples of complex malocclusion that require multidisciplinary care are patients who present with multiple unerupted and ectopic teeth (teeth out of place in the jaw), hypodontia (missing teeth), patients with a cleft lip and palate and patients with a degree of facial deformity requiring a combination of orthodontics and orthognathic (jaw) surgery to correct.

The department supports the regional specialist registrar training program, is active in research and audit and makes extensive use of computer software to analyse appropriate patient records.

Last reviewed: 28 June 2023