Foods to Avoid with Braces

foods to avoid

If you’re thinking of getting affordable braces in the Suntree, Viera or Rockledge area, you’re going to get the “food talk” from your orthodontist Dr. Natalia Valderrama at some point. This is actually one of the most common questions we hear about braces from both kids and adults: What can I eat? Here are some of the main guidelines that we will also share with you when you come to Valderrama Orthodontics for braces.

When You First Get Braces

First, the process of getting braces installed on your teeth is not painful. However, it does make the inside of your mouth a bit sensitive as you first adjust to having braces on your teeth. This means that for the first few days, you should avoid certain kinds of foods as your mouth goes through the adjustment period.

You should avoid these foods for the first week or so after your new braces are installed:

  • Spicy foods
  • Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, etc.)
  • Thick cuts of meat (thin slices should be okay)
  • Breads or rolls

Okay, so if that’s the list you should avoid in the first days after getting braces, what can you eat? The good news is that you won’t starve! There are actually many types of food that you can eat — you just have to ensure that they are soft and easy to chew. Here’s a partial list of foods you can eat during the adjustment period:

  • Noodles or other soft pastas
  • Mashed potatoes (and gravy!)
  • Soups
  • Veggies that are soft or cooked
  • Soft, non-citrus fruits like sliced peaches or plums
  • Fish
  • Ice cream and smoothies
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Soft cheeses
  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt

Plus, desserts are fine too — so long as they are soft and moist (nothing crunchy or hard to chew). Also, desserts should not be too sugary, which we’ll discuss more below.

After the first week or so passes and the inside of your mouth no longer feels sensitive, you can resume most of your regular diet.

Foods & Snacks to Avoid at All Costs

Now we’ve arrived at the more difficult part of the dreaded “food talk” for many people. There are certain foods that you will need to avoid during the entire process with braces. Eating these foods can damage your teeth (because it’s harder to brush them with braces). They can also damage the wires or bands on your braces in a worst-case scenario, which we want to avoid.

Stay away from these foods if you want to have the most successful outcome with your braces:

  • Crunchy snacks: Pretzels, crackers, potato chips, popcorn, nuts
  • Crunchy vegetables and/or fruits (such as apples or pears)
  • Candy: Nothing gooey and chewy, nothing hard and crunchy
  • Pizza crust: Just scrape off the toppings and eat them with a fork like your ancestors did before crust was invented
  • No chewing on ice cubes: Drink through a straw and keep the ice out of your mouth
  • Gum: No chewing gum. No bubblegum. Period!

That covers most of the bases. One more thing about sugary foods and drinks, however. You should plan to limit your intake of any foods that are high in processed sugars. Sugar mixes with saliva and forms plaque on your teeth, which in turn can lead to cavities. It is also very challenging to brush plaque off your teeth now, because the braces have created a lot of hard-to-reach spaces that you can’t get to with your toothbrush.

So, for the duration of your time with braces on your teeth, try to limit things like soft drinks and cupcakes. It’s okay to have them occasionally, but probably not as often as you are used to.

Oh, No! My Braces Got Messed Up!

Sometimes accidents happen with the diet, and a patient can end up with a wire or a band loose on their braces. We get it. Temptations are difficult to resist. Maybe you tripped and fell down with your mouth open, and that piece of salt water taffy just fell in your mouth and damaged your braces. (We don’t judge here at Valderrama Orthodontics.)

If something goes wrong with your braces due to an unfortunate candy mishap, it’s not the end of the world. But you SHOULD call our office immediately to get your braces repaired. Don’t try to pull on the wires or bands yourself, because you could make the problem worse.

If you have any questions about your braces or need them repaired, contact us here or call our office at 321.425.5050 for an appointment in one of our  convenient locations. We are now located in Suntree, Viera, and Rockledge. 

The Importance of Wearing Your Retainer


Once Dr. Natalia Valderrama, your orthodontist, removes your braces, your new best friends are going to be your retainers. The retainer is what will hold your teeth in their new positions for the long-term. Thus, it’s vitally important that you become accustomed to wearing it. Here’s a look at why it’s so important to wear your retainers after braces.

What’s a Retainer?

It does not matter whether you are wearing clear aligners,  lingual braces, bride braces, engineer braces, invisible braces for adults, or traditional metal-and-wire affordable braces. Once those braces come off at the “end” of the braces treatment phase, you will be given a retainer that you will be wearing for a long time.

We will fit you with a customized retainer that has been molded and designed to perfectly fit your teeth. The retainer is an orthodontic appliance that is crafted in a lab after we digitally scan your “bite” here at Valderrama Orthodontics. We do not take gooey molds of your bite anymore! So there is not gagging at this appointment. Also, since we will have the digital print of your perfect teeth, you can call our office for many years to come and order your retainers by phone or online and  we will ship them to you wherever you are in the world. No need for an office visit.

Why It’s So Important to Wear Your Retainer

You’ve likely worn your braces from one to two years, your teeth have shifted, and now you have that perfect smile you’ve always wanted! You’re all done, right? Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how it works.

Once a patient’s braces come off, the teeth are going to want to naturally “drift” back to their original locations. If you want to keep that perfect smile and don’t want to let all that hard work of going through braces go to waste, you MUST wear your retainers as directed by Dr. Natalia Valderrama, your orthodontist. If you don’t wear your retainer as often as directed, your teeth can shift out of place very quickly.

How Often to Wear Your Retainer

Most patients are asked to wear their retainer as frequently as possible for the 30 days after the braces are removed.

After the first month or so, you will be able to take the retainer out during the day. However, you will be instructed to continue wearing it every night. You can expect that standard for the next one to three years. Approximately three years after your braces come off, you will likely be able to taper that off to five nights per week.

To truly ensure that the work done by your braces is “permanent,” you will be wearing a retainer indefinitely. It takes a long-term commitment from the patient if they want to keep their teeth (and smile) perfectly straight for years to come.

It’s also really important for us to mention this: If you go away for a weekend vacation — and you forget to take your retainer with you — it’s not the end of the world! A couple of days without wearing it is not going to cause your teeth to shift dramatically. Just don’t make it a habit! It can be a slippery slope if you constantly forget to wear the retainer for a few days. Wear the retainer 24 hours a day for a week and you will repair the damaged done.

Taking Care of Your Retainer

Both the wire and the plastic in your retainer are a bit delicate, so it’s important to take good care of them. If your retainer becomes misshapen, it may have to be replaced with a new one. Follow all of your orthodontist’s instructions when it comes to caring for your specific type.

Hot water, for example, can cause the plastic in a retainer to start to warp. It doesn’t take very much of a shift in the shape of a retainer to cause it to not fit properly. In fact, the changes in its shape might be imperceptible if you put the retainer in hot water. The only way you’ll know the shape has warped is when the retainer suddenly doesn’t fit correctly.

The metal parts of the retainer can also become misshapen. Accidents like dropping it, or from something as simple as accidentally setting a book on top of it might deform it. If it suddenly does not fit properly, come see us as soon as possible. We can find out if it can be repaired or if you need to order a new one!

Contact Us in Rockledge, Melbourne, or Viera

If you’re thinking about braces to straighten your teeth and give you that perfect smile, it’s never too late! Contact us today to schedule your appointment in one of our three convenient locations. We are now located in Rockledge, Suntree, Melbourne, and soon in Viera.  We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Keeping Your Teeth Clean and White With Braces

teeth clean

When you have braces attached to your teeth by your friendly and affordable orthodontist in Melbourne, Dr. Natalia Valderrama at Valderrama Orthodontics,  keeping your teeth clean and white becomes a whole new challenge. You’ve probably been brushing your teeth for years, but now you have all these brackets and wires in the way! Here are some tips on the “best practices” you should use to keep your teeth clean and looking great especially while you have braces.

Pay Attention When Brushing

You’re probably used to thinking about a million different things and letting your mind wander when brushing your teeth. But when you have braces, you have to retrain yourself to really focus on what you’re doing.

Take the time to focus on every single tooth when brushing, especially spots that are hard to reach. That’s where food is most likely to become trapped. Get used to spending about five minutes to brush your teeth, using a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. Be sure to rinse with mouthwash as well, to reach places that you might have missed with the brush.

Pay Attention to the Angle of the Brush

Hold the toothbrush at about a 45-degree angle against the gums and be sure to brush the whole tooth. That means the front of the tooth, the back of each tooth, the chewing surface of each tooth and especially along the gumline. Be gentle as you do it, and remember to brush between the wire and the teeth as well.

Don’t Skip out on Brushing

It’s much easier for food to get trapped in your teeth when you have braces, so be sure to brush after every single meal. Food that gets stuck in your braces attracts the bacteria that will cause plaque and tooth decay. Don’t skip brushing!

Always Be Ready to Brush

We give to every patient a tooth-brushing oral hygiene kit that they can keep with them at all times. That way you’ll never be caught in a situation where you’re unable to brush your teeth after a meal. Keep also an extra small kit with a toothbrush and toothpaste (and even floss) in your backpack for school or in the glovebox of your car for work.

Use the Right Floss

Which floss is the correct one for people with braces? The one that works best for you. You might have to experiment with different types of floss to find the one that you are most comfortable with.

Standard floss is just fine for most people, but others like to use a floss threader. There are also all-in-one types of floss that work for cleaning different surface types. Find the one that works best for you and use it regularly.

Be Sure to Use Fluoride

Fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash should be your new best friends while you’re going through the process of braces. You need extra protection against cavities and tooth decay when you have braces attached to your teeth, so be sure to use ADA-approved fluoride products for cleaning your teeth every day.

Specialized Brushes

There are some spots on the teeth that you just might not be able to reach with a standard toothbrush. There’s a small, pointy cone-shaped brush called an “interproximal” brush, or sometimes called an “interdental” brush. These are great for those hard-to-reach spots where you might have more trouble cleaning the teeth. Ask Dr. Valderrama, our Valderrama Orthodontics offices for a sample of one of these at your next visit, or look for them at any drugstore.

Avoid Grinding Your Teeth

Be gentle with your teeth when you’re going through the process with braces! Don’t try to open packages with your teeth and don’t grind your teeth. If you are a habitual tooth-grinder in your sleep, let us know, because we have products available that can help.

Follow the Food Guidelines

Your orthodontist will provide you with important food guidelines when you’re wearing braces. Follow these rules diligently — and don’t worry, the rules are temporary. Avoid sticky or hard foods, and try to stay with softer foods that are less likely to cause problems with your braces. This will help a lot when it comes to keeping your teeth clean and white. 

Call Your Melbourne Orthodontist for Braces

Taking good care of your teeth is important no matter what type of orthodontic treatment you are receiving. We provide everything from lingual braces to bride braces, engineer braces, and Invisalign teen at our Suntree, Viera, or Rockledge orthodontic practices in Melbourne. And yes, that includes braces! Contact any of our offices to schedule your next appointment if you think you or your child is a good candidate for braces.

What Should I Do if I Notice My Retainer Doesn’t Fit the Same?


After your braces finally come off, you will need to wear a retainer for the rest of your life. This ensures that your teeth won’t try to shift back to their original positions. It’s very common, however, for patients to discover one day that their retainer no longer fits in their mouth. This is not the end of the world! It just means that it’s time to give Dr. Natalia Valderrama, your orthodontist in Melbourne a call. Here’s a closer look at the reasons why your device might no longer fit.

Did the Retainer’s Shape Change?

A retainer is actually a fairly delicate orthodontic appliance. It’s not uncommon for people to accidentally change the shape of the retainer without realizing it. Accidentally dropping it or setting a heavy textbook on top of it can change the shape of the wire or the plastic. Not to mention dropping it and then accidentally stepping on it! (This happens a lot.)

Another really common way people damage their retainer is by putting it in water that’s too hot when they are cleaning it. We often think of hot water as a great way to kill germs, but with the soft plastic in the device, hot water can cause serious problems. If the temperature of the water is too high, it can cause the plastic to warp. You may not even be able to see the difference — but you will notice it when you try to put the retainer in and it no longer fits properly (or at all).

Did the Position of Your Teeth Change?

On the other hand, your retainer might be in perfect shape but the position of your teeth changed. If this happens it could mean that you are not following the instructions from your  orthodontist.

A retainer needs to be worn for a prescribed number of hours each day. After wearing braces, those teeth are going to want to naturally shift back to their original positions. If a patient does not wear the retainer often enough and the teeth start to slowly slide out of place, the device will become more uncomfortable. Eventually, it won’t fit at all!

If it gets to the point where your retainer simply does not fit, it’s time to come in for an appointment.

Step One: Call Dr. Natalia Valderrama, your Melbourne Orthodontist

Did the family dog use your retainer for a chew toy? Did you drop it and then watch in horror as it rolled down a hill until a garbage truck ran over it? Or is it just a big mystery as to why your retainer no longer fits? No matter the reason, your first step should be to call Valderrama Orthodontics in Melbourne so we can remedy the situation. The longer you go without wearing your retainer, the bigger the risk that your teeth are shifting back out of place.

The first thing we will do is take a look at your retainer to see if its shape has actually changed. If a wire is bent, we may be able to reshape it for a quick fix. If the plastic has been warped by a hot water incident or something else, you will likely need to be fitted for a new one.This is a simple process that you have already been through once: Since our practices in Suntree, Viera and Rockledge are fully digital, you will get scanned by our Trios scanner and within 24 hours using our 3D printing technology, you will have a brand new set of retainers ready for you to come pick up! No more gooey molds or waiting days for a new retainer..

If your teeth have shifted but your retainer still “sort of” fits, it could be that you’re not wearing it often enough. In some cases, we might instruct you to start wearing the device “full time” until your teeth readjust to it. If the teeth have shifted too much, it may require a short period of orthodontic treatment, followed by getting scanned  for a brand new retainer.

Move Quickly if Your Retainer No Longer Fits

If your retainer doesn’t fit properly for any reason, get in touch with us at our Valderrama Orthodontics office in Melbourne, Fl  at 321-425-5050 as quickly as possible. If your teeth shift too much because of a delay in getting a new retainer, you might even need to go back to braces or Invisalign for a time, in order to re-straighten your teeth. It’s important to act quickly! 

What Is the Best Way to Check for Oral Cancer?

oral cancer

Since you’re reading this article on the page of your favorite affordable orthodontist in Melbourne, you’ve probably already guessed the answer to the question posed in the title. The best way to check for oral cancer is to schedule a checkup with your dentist or orthodontist. We are the medical professionals who spend the most time looking around inside your mouth. Thus, it’s really no surprise that we would be the first ones to notice early warning signs.

Oral Cancer Incidence In the US

One of the first things we want to point out is that oral cancer is extremely rare in young Americans. In the 19 and under age group, fewer than 1 in 500,000 are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. That’s fewer than 150 young people per year in the entire United States. The reason for this is because most of the risk factors for oral cancer are from bad habits that adults develop. For example, tobacco and heavy alcohol use are two of the leading factors that can cause oral cancer to develop. Additionally, spending too much time in the sun can also lead to lip cancer later in life. The risk of oral cancer starts to pick up significantly after age 50. The highest risk group is among people in the 60 to 70 age range.

Additionally, males are slightly more likely to contract oral cancer than females, and the risk is also higher among black and Hispanic males than among other races. Although the age-incidence rate for oral cancers has historically skewed older, young people in their 20s have been contracting oral cancers at higher rates in recent years. Studies show this is likely linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted disease.

How Dr. Natalia Valderrama, your Viera/Suntree/ Rockledge Orthodontist, Checks for Oral Cancer

The most common way oral cancers are identified is when your dentist notices something odd in your mouth. Oral cancer can present itself as a red or white patch of tissue inside the mouth. Your dentist will notice pretty quickly if anything looks abnormal or stands out during routine visits. This is important to note: Just because an orthodontist or a dentist notices something unusual in your mouth does not automatically mean it’s cancer. It could be a sore spot, an infection, an allergic reaction to something you ate, or any number of other possible things. Your dentist may then feel around inside your mouth to check the consistency of the tissue abnormality. The doctor may also check your cheeks, lips, throat and neck for any abnormal lumps.

Additional tests can include a test screening with specialized dye (used as mouth rinse) or a cancer screening light. While your dentist may be able to rule out oral cancer using these methods, you will probably be asked to come in for a follow-up exam. This is to monitor the progress of the abnormal tissue. If it’s a mouth sore that went away on its own, there’s probably nothing to be concerned about. If the abnormal cells are still present, it may be time to conduct a biopsy. This means removing a sample of the affected tissues and sending them to a lab to screen for cancer. This will probably be necessary for a formal cancer diagnosis.

Last, another important point to mention: An oral cancer screening from a dentist is not fool-proof. There are some types of oral cancers that cannot be detected with a visual check.

Reducing Your Risk

To reduce your risk of oral cancer, you have likely already been told to stop using tobacco and to reduce your alcohol intake. This is especially true if you have any of the risk factors. Remember, if you are over the age of 50, this is even more important. Also, if you are sexually active, the HVP vaccine is an effective method of preventing an STD which can then lead to oral cancer. If you have any questions about oral cancer, the risks, symptoms, etc., please contact our office in Melbourne today. Valderrama Orthodontics can help answer all of your questions and schedule an appointment if needed.

Which Type of Braces Are the Most Comfortable?

comfortable braces

Braces are uncomfortable by their very nature. They are designed to move your teeth in a direction they don’t want to move, until they’ve settled into a new location. Any system that moves your teeth is going to cause discomfort. With that disclaimer out of the way, which type of braces are the most comfortable? Here’s a look at some of the types of braces you can receive from your Melbourne orthodontist.

Traditional Metal Braces

The traditional system of metal braces with wires and brackets are the most common type of braces you’ll see. The reason for this is because metal braces are highly effective at straightening teeth that need moderate to severe shifting to be straightened. One really great thing about metal braces today is that as the medical science behind them has improved, the brackets have gotten smaller. Metal braces today are much more comfortable than the metal braces of a couple decades ago.

While at one time, there was a social stigma around braces, that doesn’t really exist as much today. Teens have been wearing braces for generations now, so there’s really not as much “social discomfort” from having to wear them. Your friendly and affordable orthodontist in Melbourne will also offer young patients and teens a choice of colorful elastic bands to use with their braces. These bright and fun colors allow younger patients to personalize their braces and showcase their personality. Thus, increases the “social comfort” level of wearing braces.

With metal braces, it is really a tradeoff. They are the least comfortable system for adjusting and straightening teeth; but they are the most effective system for adjusting and straightening teeth.

Invisible Braces From Your Melbourne Orthodontist

Invisible braces for adults are an option for people who may not be comfortable with others knowing that they’re getting their teeth straightened. Braces are practically a “rite of passage” for teenagers, but if you’re in college or you’ve started your professional career, you might not want people to immediately realize you have braces. If this sounds like you, then invisible braces might be a better choice for you than traditional metal braces.

Invisible braces are not really “invisible.” They are made with ceramic brackets, which match the color of your teeth. Other than that, they are almost identical in principle to metal braces. Previously, ceramic braces were fairly fragile, but thanks to advances in dental science, invisible braces today are much more durable. You will still have to come in for periodic adjustments at your Melbourne orthodontist’s office, so the wires can be tightened.

Ceramic invisible braces will feel about the same as wire braces in terms of physical comfort. You will almost always be aware that they are there, doing their job of shifting your teeth. But in terms of social comfort, invisible braces are much less obvious than the shiny metallic braces that are immediately noticeable to others.

Invisalign & Invisalign Teen in Melbourne – Alternative to Braces

It’s pretty easy to understand why Invisalign and Invisalign Teen are the most popular method of straightening teeth. They are more “invisible” than invisible braces, there are no wires or brackets involved, and you get a short break from wearing the clear aligners every day. In terms of physical comfort and social comfort, Invisalign and Invisalign Teen are hard to beat!

The Invisalign aligners are scientifically designed to match your mouth. Additionally, they shift your teeth slowly over time, much like traditional braces. The main difference is the aligners are placed over your teeth and worn for at least 22 hours a day. Braces and invisible braces are attached to your teeth with brackets. They don’t come out until your Melbourne orthodontist removes them at the end of treatment. Invisalign aligners have to be taken out for meals, so you do get a daily break from wearing them.

Invisalign is not a system of braces, but they function very similarly. Out of all of the choices for straightening your teeth, Invisalign is one of the most comfortable methods.

Contact Valderrama Orthodontics in Melbourne About Braces

If you think you might be a good candidate for braces or Invisalign, contact Valderrama Orthodontics in Melbourne to schedule an appointment today. We’ll work with you to determine the best option for straightening your teeth and giving you that perfect smile!

Am I A Good Candidate For Braces/Second Braces?

Candidate for Braces

Dr. Natalia Valderrama, our orthodontist in Melbourne, can let you know during a single appointment whether you are a good candidate for braces or second braces. A lot of people would like to have an idea on whether they are a good candidate before they walk into Valderrama Orthodontics. We completely understand! Not everyone is a candidate for braces or second braces. However, we’ll try to provide a general idea on the topic in this blog.

Why Braces Are Needed

Braces are a tool that your orthopedic dentist or orthodontist in Melbourne will often recommend to correct a malocclusion — a problem with the patient’s “bite.” A bite problem can mean the person’s teeth are crowded, protrude outward, they are crooked, or are somehow misaligned. Braces shift the teeth over time, so that they line up straight and the patient is able to have straight, beautiful teeth and a great smile. They work best during the young teenage years because that is when kids have lost most of their baby teeth. Also, the jaws are still pliable enough to allow the teeth to be shifted by using braces.

Are You a Candidate for Braces?

If you have most of your permanent teeth and a malocclusion, you are probably a good candidate for braces. Here are some of the types of bite problems that make you a good candidate for orthodontic treatment with braces:

  • Crossbite: This malocclusion happens when the top teeth don’t line up correctly with the bottom teeth.
  • Overjet: This is characterized by the top front teeth jutting outwards.
  • Overbite: The top front teeth cover up too much of the bottom teeth.
  • Underbite: When the teeth are closed, the bottom teeth rest in front of the top teeth.
  • Open Bite: This is characterized by top and bottom front teeth that don’t meet together properly.

Why Second Braces Are Needed

It’s not as common, but there are occasions when a second round of braces becomes necessary. There are a number of possible reasons for this. After several years of having straight teeth, they might shift back into a crooked position again. Sometimes this happens because the patient had to end their first round of braces too early. If someone doesn’t wear their retainers after a round of braces — as directed by their orthodontist, it can cause the teeth to shift back into their original locations. People who struggle with bruxism — chronic teeth grinding — also tend to have their teeth become misaligned once again, despite correcting them with braces.

The good news is that if you’ve already worn braces once and your teeth have become crooked again, you’re likely a good candidate for second braces.

Alternatives to Second Braces

The really good news is that if you are in your latter teen years, early adulthood, or even middle age, you have a lot more orthodontic options available to you for correcting bite problems. Invisalign Teen — the clear, removable plastic aligners that straighten your teeth much like braces become an option. Invisalign is extremely popular with adults as well. This is because the system is nearly invisible; no one has to know you’re getting your teeth straightened. Clear braces are another popular option. These are similar to your traditional braces but have clear brackets. The clear brackets make your braces tough to notice!

It really is best to have bite corrections done with braces when a patient is in their early teen years. This is due to the fact that the teeth are more “cooperative” when it comes to getting them to move. But just because you’ve moved beyond your teen years, doesn’t mean that you can’t get your teeth straightened — and dental science has provided many new and inconspicuous options in just the past few years.

Contact Dr. Natalia Valderrama, our Melbourne Orthodontist About Braces/Second Braces

The best way to know whether you are a good candidate for braces, second braces, Invisalign or any other orthodontic treatment is to call our office and set up an appointment. You can reach us at (321) 425-5050 or Contact us online to schedule a visit. We look forward to hearing from you!

Breaking The Habit Of Thumb Sucking And Pacifier Use

Pacifier thumb sucking use

Thumb sucking and pacifier use are actually very comforting to babies and young children, so you don’t want to discourage a child from doing these things too early. Eventually, however, these can become habits and can start to impact your child’s “bite.” If that happens, you may be sending your child to visit an orthodontist in Melbourne when they become a teenager. Here’s what you should know about thumb sucking and pacifier use, and how to break the habit as your child grows older.

Why Young Children Suck Their Thumbs or Pacifiers

It’s pretty easy to understand why babies and infants suck on their thumbs or a pacifier. The sucking reflex is how they take in nourishment in the form of breast milk or bottle formula. That same reflex is extremely comforting and can help them (and their tired parents) fall asleep. Thumb sucking and pacifier use are perfectly normal for the first few months of a baby’s life. It’s after the baby’s teeth start coming in that the thumb or pacifier can become a damaging habit.

Risks of Long-Term Thumb and Pacifier Sucking

If a child’s permanent teeth start to come in, habitual thumb-sucking and pacifier use can affect the shape of the child’s mouth. It can also affect the direction their upper teeth come in. Misaligned teeth mean that you’ll likely be looking for Dr. Valderrama, our orthodontist in Viera/Suntree in Melbourne when the child gets older. Children that have made an intense habit of thumb sucking and/or pacifier use will have a more dramatic impact on their teeth. If the habit is broken before the permanent teeth come in, the child’s bite may correct itself on its own.

Proper Age to End Thumb Sucking & Pacifier Use

Some pediatric dentists and orthodontist recommend ending the habit by age 2. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends weaning children off of thumb sucking and pacifier use no later than age 4, at the latest. Although, a child could most definitely give up the habit willingly much earlier.

Tips for Weaning Your Child Off the Pacifier

    • Cut the Pacifier: Poking a hole in a pacifier or shortening it by 1/4- to 1/2-inch with a pair of scissors can make a child lose interest in the habit. They won’t get the same sucking sensation from it and sometimes this is enough to get them to abandon the habit. 
    • Give It Away: If you have a friend with a younger baby, you can encourage your child to “give” their pacifier away as an act of kindness and generosity. This can be an effective way of getting your child to “let go” of the pacifier. Your friend can then just throw the pacifier away. 
    • Get Creative: If you have sewing skills, sew the pacifier into a favorite stuffed animal’s mouth. Then you have a handy excuse to explain to the child that the pacifier is currently unavailable for use. The stuffed animal is now enjoying it!
    • “Lose” It: The “Oops! Mommy and daddy lost the binkie on accident” excuse can work wonders as well. It may result in some short-term tears, but once the pacifier is gone, it’s gone.

    Tips for Weaning Your Child Off Thumb Sucking

    • Lots of Praise: Praise your child when you see them try to stop sucking their thumb. Positive reinforcement, rather than punishment, can help break the habit.
    • Non-Food Rewards: A special toy that the child only gets to use after they avoid sucking their thumb for a while can help as well.
    • Sticker Chart: The concept here is the same as a sticker chart for potty training. Success for several hours results in a sticker reward.
    • Palatal Crib or Rake: This is an absolute last-resort that Dr. Valderrama our Suntree/Viera in  Melbourne orthodontist can install in your child’s mouth. It’s used for about three or four months and is designed to prevent thumb-sucking.

    Call an Affordable Orthodontist in Melbourne

    If your child has misaligned teeth or a problem with their bite that lasts into their teenage years, Valderrama Orthodontics in Melbourne can help. We have a wide variety of orthodontic bite correction methods at our disposal. We will straighten teeth and give you that perfect smile, from bride braces to Invisalign Teen to invisible braces for adults. Contact our office to schedule an appointment today!

Why Early Orthodontic Treatment is Best

The same principle you always hear your family physician talk about when it comes to your health applies to orthodontic treatment. Early intervention provides the best outcome! Your child’s first appointment with our Suntree orthodontist, Dr. Valderrama should happen no later than age 7. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends this as well. By age 7, a highly skilled family orthodontist, such as Dr. Natalia Valderrama, can identify many issues well in advance. Early intervention in these cases can ensure that your child’s smile, jawbone, and facial features develop properly over time, without any potential complications.

First Checkup with an Affordable Orthodontist

Your child will have several of their permanent teeth by the time they reach age 7. This means Dr. Valderrama can project how the rest of your child’s permanent teeth are going to come in down the road. By examining the child’s development to date, issues can be found as soon as possible. In many cases, everything is developing normally and no further orthodontic treatment will be recommended. Sometimes a potential problem can be spotted based on space on the child’s jaw, or the direction that a particular tooth is going to grow. In those cases, further monitoring at future appointments may be recommended.

In more rare cases, Dr. Valderrama can identify a problem that will impact your child’s smile, their jawbone, or even their facial features if early intervention is not done. In those cases, Dr. Valderrama will recommend a course of treatment to correct the problem. It’s always better to intervene early in these cases, to achieve the best possible outcome.

Problems Early Orthodontic Intervention Can Correct

When teeth are coming in misaligned or if a child has a jawbone that’s not large enough to accommodate all of their incoming permanent teeth, early orthodontic intervention may be recommended. Dr. Valderrama will explain the options to you after a potential problem is identified. Early intervention is strongly recommended for cases where a problem has the potential to become worse over time, if no action is taken.

Here are some of the most common issues where early intervention can lead to a much better outcome for your child:

  • Teeth that are too crowded, or have too much space between them
  • Underbites: An underbite occurs when the lower teeth rest in front of the upper teeth when the mouth is closed
  • Crossbites: If the lower jaw is shifted to one side, so the upper and lower teeth are not aligned
  • Teeth that come together abnormally, or that don’t meet at all
  • Extra teeth or missing teeth that can change the direction of future permanent teeth
  • Thumb-sucking or other habits that can impact the growth of the jaw or teeth

Treatment Options for Early Intervention

Your orthodontist has several options for early intervention treatments, based on the diagnosis of your child’s teeth. “Early intervention” is not as serious as it sounds! If a child has most of their permanent teeth by age 8 for example, they may be ready for affordable braces. Other dental appliances can be used to adjust the growth and development of the teeth. In certain cases, extraction of some baby teeth may be recommended in order to help the permanent teeth erupt in the right direction. Dr. Valderrama will walk you through all of the possible options to ensure the best outcome for your child.

Other Treatments Available at Valderrama Orthodontics

In addition to early orthodontic treatment for children, Valderrama Orthodontics offers many of the latest technological advancements in treatment for teens and adults. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Invisalign in Suntre/Viera
  • Invisalign Teen
  • Clarity Advanced
  • Incognito Hidden Lingual Braces
  • Bride Braces & Engineer Braces
  • Clear Correct
  • Invisible Braces for Adults
  • And much more!

Many adults who haven’t visited an orthodontist in a long time will be surprised at the technological advances that have been made in the profession. Many affordable treatment options are also available!

Contact an Affordable Orthodontist in Suntree/Viera

If your child is old enough for their first orthodontic visit, please give our office a call at (321) 425-5050 to schedule an appointment.


What are Lingual Braces and How do They Differ From Traditional Braces?  

Lingual Braces

The very first braces were created nearly 300 years ago, flat pieces of metal connected to one another with a thread. Modern technology has tremendously improved its design in recent years, making braces more effective, more durable, more comfortable to wear, and less visible. In response to people increasingly wanting “invisible” braces to improve their smiles, today there are a number of alternatives to traditional braces. You may have heard of clear aligners like Invisalign, or even clear ceramic braces, but there may be some options you aren’t familiar with, such as lingual braces. 

What Are Lingual Braces?

Lingual braces work exactly the same way as traditional metal braces, with brackets affixed directly to the teeth and connected by wires. However, lingual braces have one very unique difference: They are placed on the backs of the teeth facing the tongue, rendering them almost completely invisible.

Despite their special placement, lingual braces correct teeth misalignment in the same way as traditional braces, by putting consistent but light pressure on the teeth to gradually move them. The metal wires do most of the actual moving, while the brackets have the important function of holding those wires in place.

Lingual vs. Traditional Braces: What’s The Difference?

For all their similarities to traditional metal braces, lingual braces do have some distinct differences that should be taken into consideration.

  • Placement – Aside from the fact that lingual braces sit behind the teeth, they also differ from traditional braces in how they’re actually placed. Where traditional braces are made of standard-sized brackets that are placed on each individual tooth, lingual braces are custom-fit to each person’s mouth and all the brackets are placed at once using a specialized tray.
  • Adjustment period – There is a bit of discomfort when someone is getting used to wearing any type of orthodontic care. Because lingual braces directly interact with the tongue, it may be difficult to speak and swallow when you first get them, though these challenges lessen over time.
  • Day-to-day care – Although keeping your teeth clean is always important – especially when you wear braces – it’s even more so when it comes to lingual braces. Food particles frequently get trapped in the brackets and wires, and because you can’t easily see behind your teeth, more diligence is required when brushing and caring for lingual braces.

Who’s A Good Candidate For Lingual Braces?

The first thing to know when considering lingual braces is that not everyone who wants them is physically able to wear them. The teeth have to be long enough for the brackets to be affixed to their backsides, which rules out many children and in some cases, adults whose teeth are on the smaller side. People with severe bite issues, such as having a deep overbite, are also unable to wear lingual braces.

Lingual braces are an excellent choice for many older children, teens, and adults who are self-conscious about the look of traditional braces. According to Harvard Medical School, one in five people who get braces are adults, which may at least partially explain why lingual braces are growing in popularity.

Ultimately, there are a number of individual factors that contribute to whether or not someone is an ideal candidate for lingual braces, and the best way to determine that is to schedule a consultation with an experienced orthodontist who can help you decide if your lifestyle, oral health, and overall desired results make you a good candidate for lingual braces. 

Talking To Your Orthodontist

As you’re comparing lingual and traditional braces for yourself or someone in your family, the most important thing to note is that one is not necessarily better than the other; they are simply different options. Knowing that lingual braces come with increased responsibility in terms of dental hygiene, they are an excellent choice for those patients willing to accept that responsibility.

If you have any questions or are ready to schedule a complimentary consultation, contact Valderrama Orthodontics in Melbourne today. We have flexible appointments to help your family prioritize dental care. We specialize in perfect healthy beautiful smiles and can’t wait to help you with yours! Call us today to get started! 321.425.5050