Please introduce yourself
Hello! My name is Ariane Sampson and I am a specialist orthodontist working at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, and in private and specialist practices in Central London and Orpington.
Why did you decide to become a specialist orthodontist?
I had much-needed orthodontic treatment in the US and in the UK when I was a teenager, and I really felt that the treatment revolutionised my face and smile. I always remembered the impact this treatment had on my confidence, and my mother suggested I explore Orthodontics as a career. I did work experience with my Orthodontist when I was at school, and was enthused by how creative and artistic Orthodontics could be. I then went to dental school to do Orthodontics. After I graduated, I went down the customary pathway to get into Orthodontic specialty training by gaining experience in General Dentistry, Paediatric Dentistry and Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, which all but reinforced my desire to be a specialist Orthodontist. I’ve come full circle now as I work at my own Orthodontist’s specialist practice!
What’s the best thing about being an orthodontist?
Because of the nature of Orthodontics, we see our patients very frequently over a long period of time; about every two months for years. This helps forge genuine friendships which I really value. I love how creative Orthodontics can be, both in terms of building beautiful smiles, but also in the way carry out individual treatment mechanics. The work is very fulfilling and I love to see the positive impact it can have on patients’ lives. Finally, I really enjoy working with other members of the dental professional to deliver the best care for the patient. We often work with general dentists, and specialists in Periodontology, Oral Surgery and Prosthodontics.
What aspect of your training had the most impact on you?
The training was much more challenging than I could have anticipated. I made it through the three years thanks to the unwavering support, guidance and camaraderie from my consultants and the departments I worked in. I was lucky to be trained by some extremely talented Orthodontists, each with their own characteristic style and I hope that a little bit of each of them has rubbed off on me in cultivating me as an Orthodontist.
Have you had braces yourself? If so, could you describe your experience and how this might have impacted the way you look after patients now.
Yes, I had Orthodontic treatment as a teenager for about four years in both the US and in the UK. I started out with severe crowding, and my front teeth stuck out quite a lot. I needed fixed braces, an appliance to bring my lower jaw forward, and extractions followed by retainers. It was my experience of Orthodontics that partly led me to be an Orthodontist in the first place! I find my personal experience with Orthodontics helps me be more empathetic to the fears and hesitations some patients may have about embarking on Orthodontic treatment. I’ve also learned lots of tips and tricks of getting through brace treatment more comfortably.
What is your number one piece of advice for adults thinking about getting their teeth straightened?
Go for it! It’s such a positive step towards self-improvement, and if you’re keen to straighten your teeth, you won’t regret it. Just bear in mind, it is a commitment so do your homework and ask lots of questions before you take the plunge. There’s no time like the present!
You have developed an amazing brand with your sister, Victoria, how did that come about and why did you do it?
Thank you! It started when I was still in training as a little anonymous Instagram page where I would give advice on how to look after children’s teeth. When my sister (a general dentist @drvictoriasampson) and I graduated from our respective courses, we went public with who we were, and used it as a platform to help the public see Dentists and Orthodontists as approachable, friendly people! We wanted to take the fear out of visiting the Dentist, all the while relaying important information about oral health and all things dental in a fun and informative way.
I did my Masters research on the impact of social media on facial and smile confidence, which was published in the Journal of Orthodontics and then written about in The Evening Standard earlier this year. We found that any use of social media (not just increased use) reduces facial and smile confidence in men and women when viewing images of nice smiles compared with neutral landscape images. This research supports other findings that social media can be a dangerous place for self-esteem. I want for our platform to be a safe and welcoming space for users from which we can send positive messages, valued information and warnings of some of the dangers of social media.
The study I did on facial and smile confidence spurred a few other scientific studies into the world of social media, including Instagram and Tinder. One of the studies that will be published later this year in The Angle Journal confirmed that most users get their information about treatments from social media. Users would prefer for their clinicians to have social media accounts from which they can see their clinical work. I found these findings really quite profound because it reinforces our social responsibility to use our positions as specialists in healthcare to put out clear, safe and factual information.
Social media is also a great place for meeting colleagues from all over the world and learning about new treatment mechanics. In fact, I found an Orthodontist called Dr Daniel Figueiredo on Instagram (@orthodontic_world) and went to visit him in Brazil last year to do research on and learn about miniscrews!
What’s next for ’The Dental Sisters’?
We have some exciting collaborations and IG Lives planned on @thedentalsisters – watch this space!
If you were going to treat Victoria or another family member or close friend, what type of brace would you most likely recommend?
Victoria IS in fact going to have orthodontic treatment with me to tidy up a little bit of mild crowding from relapse after her fixed brace treatment as a teenager. The brace I would recommend for her would be a quick course of Invisalign because the crowding is so mild and she is likely to be very complaint with wearing the aligners. Generally though, my recommendation for braces varies completely from case to case and depends on the patient’s desire, initial presentation, finances, medical history, social history, aesthetic demands, etc.
What is your top tip if you have braces?
If you have fixed braces on the fronts of your teeth, never choose clear or glow-in-the-dark modules. They discolour!
Broken brackets are most often caused by…?
Crunching on naughty foods.
What did you get up to during lockdown?
It was a busy time actually! I was still working by doing telephone triaging for emergency patients calling in for help with their braces. The BOS website has an immensely helpful page with videos on how to manage orthodontic emergencies at home, so that was definitely a saving grace for patients!
I took part in some Instagram Live conversations and interviews with other healthcare professionals to talk through treatments. One of the series I worked on was with a Prosthodontist in Dubai (@thafez), and it was fascinating to see how the same case could be treated with veneers and crowns alone, or Orthodontics alone. There are so many options out there for patients, and it’s important for us as professionals to know about them all to help our patients make the best decision.
My sister and I finished some studies we had been working on and published a paper in the British Dental Journal on the link between oral hygiene and the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infections. This possible link led us to donating and delivering oral health kits to the residents of nursing homes in London.
Finally, there was lots of painting, baking (banana bread and the Brazilian Pão de Queijo went down a treat) and trying to work all the baking off with @doyourrumble IG Live workouts!
What’s your favourite part of the treatment process and why is this?
That’s a difficult question because I like most parts! I find the adjustment appointments very fulfilling as I enjoy seeing the progress from visit to visit. Taking the braces off is also a highlight as I love seeing the patients’ reactions!
What meal would you cook for someone who has just had their braces fitted?
My own first meal after my braces were fitted was a hazelnut ice cream milkshake. Not a big show of culinary expertise, but it really does hit the spot!
Adults who are thinking about getting their teeth straightened should…..
Do your research. Find an orthodontist you feel comfortable with, talk to them about the options, talk to other people who have had similar treatments, read blogs like this one, and see if the timing is right in your life. It is never too late to straighten your teeth!
If you would like to visit Dr. Ariane Sampson, she practices at:
Smile Solutions in Belsize Park (private dental practice) http://www.smile-solutions.info/
Willesden Orthodontic Clinic (mixed orthodontic practice) http://www.orthodontist.co.uk/willesden.html
Simply Orthodontics in Orpington (mixed orthodontic practice) https://www.simply-orthodontics.co.uk/
Or you can follow her on Instagram @thedentalsisters https://www.instagram.com/thedentalsisters/?hl=en