I did lots and lots of research before I picked Asif Chatoo, who carried out my treament at The London Lingual Orthodontic Clinic. Everyone is different and it’s really important that you meet your potential orthodontist before making your own decision, but for me, Asif and his team were brilliant and I completely trusted him every step of the way.
I recently quizzed Asif to find out more about how he came to be an expert in lingual braces and get his advice on some of your most common questions…
Why did you want to become an orthodontist?
When I was a dental undergraduate, I thought orthodontics was one of the most interesting and enjoyable aspects of dentistry – so I pursued further qualifications to become an orthodontic specialist.
Why did you decide to specialise in lingual braces?
I went to a lecture on the lingual technique while I was doing my orthodontic studies, given by the inspirational Didier Fillion who now works in my practice. Being able to provide an invisible treatment which would make tooth-straightening acceptable to adults really appealed to me. I thought: “If I ever had my teeth straightened, I would like lingual braces.”
Have you had lingual braces yourself? If so, how was the experience for you?
Yes. My orthodontist was Didier. Because I know what it feels like, I can empathise with patients although in truth, I did not find the experience difficult.
What food did you miss most?
I love crunchy bread, especially baguettes, so that was the thing I missed most. Otherwise, I just ate differently. When you are in braces, you can’t easily take big bites so I would cut up my food. I like hamburgers and because no-one knew I was wearing braces, they probably saw me carving up my burger and thought I was a pernickety eater. Believe me, I’m not normally!
What’s the most common question you’re asked by new patients?
Invariably the first thing patients ask after an examination is: “So can I have lingual braces?” The next question is whether the way they talk will be affected.
What’s your answer?
Yes and Yes! In answer to the first question, in most instances, there is no reason why a patient shouldn’t have lingual, although sometimes patients are told by their dentist they can’t. They come to me because they have decided they only want lingual. In answer to the second, your speech can be affected but you do gradually get used to having the braces behind the teeth. The Sky newsreader Martin Popplewell wrote a very good article for The Times about his treatment here at LLOC. He likened having braces behind his teeth to having a mini climbing frame in the mouth and also talked about the lisp he developed – but he said his speech improved over time and in nine months the treatment was over.
What do people fear most?
New patients often ask: “Will it hurt?” This is difficult to answer as we all have different pain thresholds. There is no doubt that lingual braces give the tongue a hard time as the tip of the tongue rubs up against the brackets and wires. But most of my patients say that after a few weeks, the tongue adapts and the end result makes the sore tongue entirely tolerable.
Are braces on the back surface of the teeth as effective as those on the front?
Nowadays, they are every bit as effective. I believe that the results are likely to be more pleasingly natural because all lingual systems are customised to the patient. With some other braces, the wires are made for an average mouth shape. With lingual systems, both brackets and wires are made for the individual so all movement can be planned to match the patient’s physiognomy.
Any tips for managing the pain in the first few weeks?
If you suffer discomfort, you can take painkillers at intervals. I wrote a blog post on the subject here. If you suffer from rubbing, you can get over-the-counter anaesthetic gels from the chemist or wax to place on the braces and protect the tongue.
Have you treated anyone famous?
Yes I have, but I couldn’t possibly say who.
What are the top three things people should consider when choosing their orthodontist?
Orthodontics tends to be a long-term relationship because clinician and patient see each other every few weeks. The three things I would recommend are:
1 | Ask yourself if you feel a connection with the orthodontist?
2 | Are you being listened to by the orthodontist?
3| If you are not entirely sure, be ready to get other opinions.
How much do lingual braces cost?
Undoubtedly, lingual is the most expensive technique, but for obvious reasons. Everything is fully customised and there are only a few thousand cases every year compared to many thousands of other cases carried out using conventional braces or aligners. A single arch at LLOC starts from £3,000.
Where can people go for more advice?
I would advise visiting the website of the British Lingual Orthodontic Society or for more general advice the British Dental Health Foundation. I am always happy to give a consultation here at LLOC and if you go ahead with treatment, the cost will be deducted.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?
Happy and appreciative patients. There aren’t many jobs where you are almost guaranteed a big smile from your clientele when they see what you have done for them. The other day I got an email from a patient after her wedding. She said she had just seen her photographs and realised just how lovely her smile had become and wanted to say thank you. How lovely is that?
Thanks for chatting to me Asif! If you have any more questions you’d like to ask, Asif and his team have kindly offered to monitor this blog post and reply to your comments every now and then, so don’t be afraid to ask!
[Photograph © The London Lingual Orthodontic Clinic]