Your region
  • Introduction
  • Who gets treatment on the NHS?
  • What happens to my referral?
  • Tracking your referral
  • Waiting times for orthodontics

shutterstock_272175116If your dentist has decided to refer you for orthodontics there are a few things you need to know.  How we handle and process orthodontic referrals is different depending on the location that you have been referred to.

Here is some information that you may find useful. In order to understand the different pathways for orthodontics it would be helpful if you know your referrals unique reference number, or URN.  You can ask your dentist for this number when you get referred.  You can use this number to track the progress of your referral.

You can also download a patient information sheet on orthodontic referrals here.

shutterstock_69850912There are strict criteria for patients who can receive their treatment on the NHS.  Generally orthodontics is not available to adults, people who have had orthodontics before or those whose treatment need is considered low.

You also should have excellent oral hygiene and be committed to what can be a very long term treatment – sometimes up to two years.  You can read all about the criteria for NHS orthodontics by clicking this link.

You can also read more about orthodontics and service provision at the British Orthodontic Society website – click here

shutterstock_270260516Your referral will be passed to the DRMS confidentially by your dental practitioner using a system called NHS NET. This is a safe and secure means of sending patient information using the internet.  Your dentist may post or fax your referral. We take data and information security very seriously. Once we receive your orthodontic referral we will first make sure that all the necessary information has been completed by your dentist.  Your referral is then checked to ensure that it meets the criteria for funding on the NHS.  You can find out more information about the NHS funding criteria using the links below as well as information from the British Orthodontic Society.  Please note that orthodontics is not generally available for adults on the NHS.

shutterstock_179452904We know that you want to be kept informed about your referral.  We offer a unique way of finding out more about the status of your referral.  You need to ask your dentist for the unique reference number (URN) of your referral.  This is made up of ten digits – three letters and seven numbers and will look something like this: SAL1000145.

The first three letters indicate the area you are being referred from – in this case Salford.  Click here to be taken to the referral tracking system – simply enter in all the letters and numbers – with no spaces, and you can see the information related to your referral. There will be information on the tracker system that will enable you to understand where your referral is.

shutterstock_224804491When you track your referral you may see that you have been allocated to a waiting list. There are often long waits for orthodontic treatment on the NHS. There is a strict acceptance criteria and not all patients will meet this.  Waiting lists for orthodontic treatment across the Greater Manchester and Cheshire & Merseyside areas vary dependent upon demand and capacity at different providers. In some places currently these waiting times may be between 12 months and 3 years. Patients are triaged to ensure that acceptance criteria is met and the decision to proceed with treatment is based upon clinical need only.

In some circumstances you may be assessed as not eligible for treatment under the criteria  – if you are not satisfied with this decision then, in the first instance you should discuss any further options with your referring dentist.

Waiting times for the initial triage appointment vary but patients will be offered the earliest available appointment and following this will be placed on a waiting list with an orthodontic provider for treatment to begin. The provider will then contact the patient directly to arrange an appointment – not the Dental Referral Management Centre. If you have any further queries then these should be referred to the NHS England team at

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