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J Orthod. 2010 Jun;37(2):107-17. doi: 10.1179/14653121042966.

Adult orthodontics--who's doing what?

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Eastman Dental Institute and Hospital, London, UK.



To estimate the number of adults currently being treated by specialist orthodontists in the UK, both within the National Health Service (NHS) and privately, together with the factors relating to adults undergoing orthodontic treatment, their malocclusions and details of treatment undertaken.


Self-administered postal questionnaire.


All individuals entered on the General Dental Council's Specialist List in Orthodontics, registered within the UK.


A questionnaire was sent to all those on the General Dental Council's Specialist List in Orthodontics to ascertain the numbers of adult patients being treated by specialist orthodontists and factors relating to their treatment. This included age and gender of adults being treated, sources of referral, type of orthodontic treatment carried out, disciplines involved in multidisciplinary treatment, appliance types used and issues which practitioners felt affected adult treatment. Adults undergoing orthognathic treatment were excluded from this study.


The questionnaire yielded a response rate of 70%. Those respondents working in combined hospital/university posts treated the largest proportion of adults within the NHS and those working in specialist orthodontic practice treated the largest number privately. Within 1 year, the estimated mean number of adult cases started by specialist orthodontists within the NHS was 20.9 and privately was 28.2. The majority of adults treated were reported to be within the 26-35 year age group. Most adult patients were referred for orthodontic treatment by their general dental practitioners and over 70% of treatment provided was orthodontic-only. Adults' concerns regarding the appearance of orthodontic appliances was quoted by orthodontists as being the most commonly occurring potentially complicating factor with regards to both NHS and private treatment.


Although there are reports in the literature that the number of adult orthodontic patients is increasing, there are no comprehensive figures regarding the number of adults previously treated within the NHS and privately in the UK to compare our data with. This paper presents initial data relating to practitioners' estimates of the numbers of adults being treated in the UK.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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