Invisalign vs. Clear Braces for Your Teen

invisalign or clear braces

Teenagers often want to correct their smile but they don’t want to walk around with a mouth full of metal, rubber bands, and noticeable brackets. That is why there are the orthodontic treatment options of Invisalign and clear braces.

Invisalign and clear braces are two different types of orthodontic treatment that are designed to improve your teen’s smile by shifting and moving the teeth into their proper place. While both orthodontic options can improve your teen’s smile, one option may be better for your teen. Learn about the differences between Invisalign and clear braces.

Understanding More About Invisalign and Clear Braces  

Before you can learn about the differences between clear braces and Invisalign, you need to know more about what is involved with each orthodontic treatment option.

Invisalign uses a series of clear plastic trays to move and shift your teeth into proper position. Each of the trays is designed slightly different from each other. When you wear them, they force your teeth to slowly shift into the new position. Once the teeth are in their new position, you take out the aligner tray and replace it with the new one. This is done until your teeth reach their final position.

Clear braces, on the other hand, are very similar to traditional braces. When you get clear braces you will have the brackets, rubber bands, and archwire. However, instead of having those bright, noticeable wires and brackets everything is tooth colored. This gives the appearance that you aren’t wearing braces.

Which is More Invisible?

While both Invisalign and clear braces promise to allow you to change your smile without anyone noticing, one is more noticeable than the other. Since clear braces uses wires and brackets, people will be able to see them up close. Invisalign, on the other hand, is almost completely clear. In fact, people hardly notice you are wearing the clear plastic aligners even when they are up close to you.

Which Option Treats Moderate to Severe Orthodontic Cases?

Invisalign is great for correcting overcrowded teeth or gaps. However, it isn’t always successful at treating severe orthodontic problems. If you have severe orthodontic problems, such as extremely crooked or misaligned teeth and crossbites, you may not be a good candidate for Invisalign and will need to get clear braces.

Want Bright, White Shiny Teeth? Choose Invisalign

Staining is a huge issue with clear braces. If you smoke, like to drink dark colored beverages like tea and soda, or eat acidic or brightly colored food, you may develop noticeable stains. The stains won’t be noticeable while you have braces, but once they are moved you may notice them.

People who want bright, white teeth immediately after straightening their teeth may want to consider Invisalign. Staining doesn’t occur as often with the clear plastic trays because you are able to properly brush and floss.

Which Option is Less Painful?

Your teen will experience slight pain, pressure, and discomfort with both Invisalign and clear braces. The pain occurs because the teeth are shifting and moving to their new position which can be uncomfortable.

If your teen is looking for the least painful option of the two treatment options, they will probably want to choose Invisalign. The clear plastic aligner trays don’t cause gum irritation like clear plastic braces. The brackets and wires of can sometimes rub against your teen’s cheek and gums which can cause pain and discomfort.

Which Treatment Options has Food Restrictions?

One of the most frustrating aspects of undergoing orthodontic treatment is having to give up some of your favorite foods. That also happens with Invisalign.

When you eat, you are encouraged to remove the clear Invisalign trays. Removing the clear plastic trays is extremely easy and allows you to eat your favorite foods but you can also break the bumps in your teeth so you have to be careful also.

If you have clear braces or clear aligners,  you will still need to follow the same food restrictions that come with traditional braces. You will have to avoid popcorn, nuts, crunchy and chewy foods, and other things.

Which Option is Right for Your Teen?

It depends on their personalities, does your teen loses their phone,  the keys to their car, or house? Do they have a clean room and organized closet? Do they have good oral hygiene? Do they follow instructions well? Does your teen want to improve their smile? Call Valderrama Orthodontics to schedule an appointment for an orthodontic consultation. Our experienced orthodontist will discuss treatment options with your teen and help them determine what option is the best.


Your New Best Friend, Invisalign


Just the thought of getting orthodontic treatment is enough to make people cringe. Not only can the treatment be uncomfortable and painful, but it restricts what you can or can’t do for months if not years. If the combination of pain, discomfort, and multiple restrictions have caused you to miss out on correcting your smile, we would like to introduce you to Invisalign.

Invisalign is quickly becoming one of the most popular orthodontic treatment options. It is increasing in popularity because while it corrects the alignment and placement of your teeth like traditional braces, it doesn’t have the same restrictions.

Unsure if Invisalign might be right for you? Take a look at some of the reasons people gave us when we asked why they love Invisalign.

No Complicated Teeth Cleaning Procedures

Invisalign’s ability to be quickly removed makes it extremely easy for you to clean your teeth. When you want to brush and floss, you just pop the aligners out and brush and floss as you did before Invisalign.

People love the fact that you no longer have to go through a complex tooth cleaning ritual. There is no need for specialized tools or spending precious time threading floss through the wires and brackets. You can just pop out the trays and clean your teeth.

Reduced Pain and Discomfort

Orthodontic treatment is often thought to be painful and uncomfortable. The pain and discomfort come from the stiff metallic wires and bulky brackets rubbing the lips and cheeks. People worried about pain and discomfort during orthodontic treatment will love Invisalign because it doesn’t happen with this type of orthodontic treatment.

Invisalign uses clear plastic aligner trays to guide your teeth into proper placement. Using this type of material reduces the possibility that you will experience any pain, discomfort, or irritation during treatment in your lips and cheeks

Fewer Office Visits Means More Free Time

There is a huge time commitment involved with getting traditional braces. In order for the treatment to work, you will have to plan on visiting the orthodontist every 6 to 8 weeks for adjustments. That is a lot of office visits and that doesn’t even include any emergency appointments you might need if your brackets fall off or a wire pops out. Luckily, this type of time commitment isn’t needed with Invisalign.

Invisalign allows people to have more free time because they don’t have to keep visiting the orthodontist for checkups or adjustments. There will still be a need for some appointments to check your progress, but you won’t be visiting the office that often.

Who is a Good Candidate for Invisalign?

While it would be great if every person could use Invisalign to correct their smile, it isn’t always the best treatment option for some people.

Good candidates for this type of orthodontic treatment have the following qualities:

  • Dedicated to treatment –An individual has to be committed to putting them back in once removed.
  • Ability to follow directions – There will be multiple instructions on when to switch out the alignment trays, how often you should brush and floss, and other things. It is important that you be able to follow directions or your treatment could be delayed.
  • Teeth that aren’t still growing – Invisalign tends to work better for older teens and adults who are no longer still growing.
  • Minor to moderate orthodontic cases – Invisalign can treat minor to moderate orthodontic problems, but isn’t the best option for severe orthodontic problems such as extremely overbites or underbites.

Interested in seeing if you are a good candidate for Invisalign? Schedule a consultation with Sr. Natalia Valderrama at our Valderrama Orthodontics Suntree/Viera office. We will be able to determine whether you are a good candidate for Invisalign treatment. Call our office at 321-425-5050 today to schedule your Invisalign consultation.

The Importance of Keeping your Scheduled Appointments

scheduled appointments

When you opt for metal, ceramic, or lingual braces, you make a commitment to straightening your teeth. Part of that commitment is regular appointments with your orthodontist, and in most cases, this means that you will be seeing Dr. Valderrama every few weeks for a brief appointment. Many patients wonder why are those appointments so important, and we always say that there are many reasons — read more about them below.

Making the Movement

While the braces themselves are vital to teeth straightening, they’ll only work effectively if you have them adjusted as needed. Every six to eight weeks, Dr. Valderrama will make small but crucial adjustments that tighten the braces. While you’ll notice a sensation of tightness for a day or two after each appointment, it’s rare for patients to have serious pain or discomfort. You’ll grow accustomed to the sensation and it will become routine very quickly. With every appointment, your teeth are shifted into a better position. Over time — usually anywhere from a year to two years, depending on your particular situation — your teeth can be moved into the optimal position if you’ve had those appointments. If you miss appointments here and there — even if it’s just a few appointments over the course of a year — that can mean that your teeth won’t move into the right position. This, in turn, means that you’ll likely have to wear braces longer than you had planned to get the desired results. At Valderrama Orthodontics, we always send reminders before your scheduled appointments — and it’s a wise idea to make note of your appointments on your personal calendar as well.

Identifying Issues

While most patients enjoy a relatively problem free braces experience, there are always potential issues that may develop. Problems like loose wires or brackets or even broken brackets can mean big issues for your braces and for your smile in the long term. If you stick to your scheduled appointments at Valderrama Orthodontics, Dr. Valderrama can identify these types of problems before they have a chance to cause serious damage. Loose wires can cause tearing or even ulcerations in your delicate mouth tissues and loose brackets or wires can mean that your teeth aren’t in the position needed to achieve the correction you want. You’ll never have to worry about these issues when you’re seeing the orthodontist on your regularly scheduled appointments.

Adjusting the Teeth Straightening Plan as Needed

While Dr. Valderrama will usually be able to give you a general idea of how long your teeth straightening will take, it’s important to realize that this timeline is just an estimate. Many different individual factors may play into your braces timeline, which means it can be very difficult to be precise about how long you’ll wear braces in total. As you come in for each scheduled appointment, Dr. Valderrama can adjust the teeth straightening timelines as needed — and this might sometimes mean that you’ll get the good news that you won’t need braces quite as long as you had previously thought! Of course, a big part of this is your own behavior. You’ll need to strictly follow the guidelines that you’re given for braces care to make certain that you’re getting the most out of your straightening time.

Seeking a Reliable Orthodontist For Your Child or Yourself?

The team at Valderrama Orthodontics specializes in orthodontic care including metal braces, ceramic braces, clear braces, lingual braces, clear aligners, retainers, mouth guards, and much more. Patients of all ages from children to adults can get a straighter and healthier smile with the help of Dr. Valderrama and the Valderrama Orthodontics team.

The focus is always on patient comfort and convenience. Our cozy office, compassionate staff, and special after-school program are some of the many things that help Valderrama Orthodontics patients feel welcome. We want to help you get the straight teeth that you have always dreamed of — and it might be easier than you had imagined thanks to all of the teeth straightening options available today. Contact us anytime to arrange a visit!

What Do My Rubber Bands Do?

rubber bands

Many orthodontic patients are given a bag of rubber bands and told they have to wear them daily. This type of request may seem unusual or a bit odd, but those tiny rubber bands play a huge role in helping you to improve your smile. Discover why orthodontists use rubber bands as part of your treatment and learn some tips that will help you adjust to wearing rubber bands.

The Two Types of Orthodontic Rubber Bands

Orthodontists use two different types of rubber bands to help shift and move your teeth into proper alignment. Every orthodontic patient will have at least one type of rubber band – ligatures – as their treatment, while not everyone will need the second type of rubber bands – interarch rubber bands – as part of their treatment.

Ligatures are tiny little rubber bands that are used by every orthodontic patient who gets traditional braces. These small rubber bands are wrapped around each of the brackets that are placed on your teeth. Their purpose is to hold the archwire in place during your treatment.

Ligatures are the fun part of having braces. They come in a variety of colors which allows patients to customize how their braces look. Some patients love picking out different colors during each of their appointments while others prefer the clear rubber bands that have a more natural look.

The second type of rubber bands, interarch rubber bands or elastics, are a common part of orthodontic treatment, but not everyone will need this treatment. These are larger than ligatures and are placed on both sides of your mouth.

The purpose of the interarch rubber bands is to help adjust your bite. The rubber bands provide enough tension that your jaw will subtly and slowly shift forwards or backwards. Over time, the jaw movement will give you a properly aligned jaw and completely fix your bite.

How are Interarch Rubber Bands Worn?

Unlike ligature rubber bands that only can be removed by your orthodontist, interarch rubber bands will need to be replaced on a daily basis. This means you must learn how to properly hook them up to your braces.

The following is a brief look at how you attach the rubber bands:

  • Rubber bands are worn on each side of your mouth
  • Top of the rubber band is hooked on a bracket that has been attached to one of your canines or one of your molars
  • Rubberband is stretched and then hooked on the bracket that is on a bottom molar or on a bottom canine
  • Sometimes rubber bands are worn as triangles or boxes or in the center of your mouth to align your front teeth also.

Dr. Valderrama will show you how to properly remove and replace the interarch rubber bands. If you should encounter any problems, you can always call the staff at our Valderrama Orthodontic’s office who will gladly answer any questions you may have or walk you through how to replace the rubber bands.

Tips for Adjusting to Wearing Rubber Bands with Braces

Wearing stretchy, rubbery material in your mouth is a completely new experience. There will be a period of adjustment as you get used to how the rubber bands feel, the subtle pain they may cause, and the new routine you will have to do on a daily basis.

Orthodontic patients have found the following tips useful in helping with the adjustment period:

  • Use a mirror the first few times you replace interarch rubber bands
  • Be patient. It will take a while to learn how to hook the rubber bands in your mouth. If you still find it difficult, your orthodontist may be able to give you bigger rubber bands. However, they often like to keep the rubber bands as small as possible as that helps create the tension needed to move the jaw.
  • Always keep the rubber bands close by as you never know if they may break
  • Change the rubber bands daily at the same time. This will help it become a part of your daily routine.
  • Make sure you remove the rubber bands before you brush your teeth or whenever you want to eat something – even if it is a small snack
  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water if you feel any pain or discomfort

Have any other questions about rubber bands or want to learn more about orthodontic treatment options then call Valderrama Orthodontics. Our office staff will gladly answer any questions you may have or schedule an appointment so you can speak with our orthodontist Dr. Natalia Valderrama at 321.425.5050.

Is Invisalign as Effective as Traditional Braces?


Kids, teens, and even adults who need teeth straightening today have several potential treatment options. While traditional metal braces are the best-known teeth straightening option, newer devices like Invisalign are becoming increasingly popular. One of the first questions that many patients have is whether Invisalign is as effective as traditional braces. Here’s what you need to know.

How Effective is Invisalign?

The main reason that many patients want Invisalign rather than traditional braces is that it’s virtually invisible. Nobody will even be aware that you’re wearing clear aligners in most cases. While this is certainly a major benefit, Invisalign isn’t always exactly like traditional braces in terms of effectiveness.

Invisalign can treat teeth alignment issues including overbite, underbite, crossbite, crowded teeth, and open bite. All of these issues can be treated with traditional braces as well. The main difference is that Invisalign is appropriate for mild to moderate alignment problems.

Invisalign is typically best for cases where you want teeth straightening primarily for cosmetic reasons. However, if the problem is very severe and major re-shifting of the teeth needs to take place, traditional braces may be the superior option. For example, if teeth have to be shifted vertically to achieve proper alignment, traditional braces can do that more effectively than Invisalign.

Ultimately, this doesn’t mean that Invisalign can’t be as effective as traditional braces — but it does mean that Invisalign and traditional braces each have an area where they perform particularly well. For Invisalign, it’s mild to moderate realignment of teeth for aesthetic reasons. For braces, it’s moderate to severe realignment of the teeth for aesthetic reasons, structural reasons, or both.

Is Invisalign Right For You?

If you’re interested in straightening your teeth with Invisalign, consider the following questions.

  • Can you adhere to a strict schedule of wearing the aligners? If you choose Invisalign, it’s very important to remember that it can only work while you’re wearing it. You’ll need to wear the aligners almost all the time, removing them only for oral hygiene and eating.
  • Is having metal free teeth important to you? If having metal free teeth is important to you, you might just be the perfect Invisalign candidate. With Invisalign, you get to skip the metal brackets and wires.
  • Are you willing to wear a retainer to preserve your Invisalign results? After Invisalign treatment — usually 12-24 months — you’ll need to commit to wearing a retainer to preserve your good results. Most Invisalign patients opt for a clear retainer which is similar in style to the Invisalign aligners.

What if the Dentist Recommends Braces Instead?

If you’ve got teeth alignment issues that would be more effectively corrected with traditional braces, you still have options. These include:

  • Traditional metal braces: traditional metal braces include brackets and wires that are periodically tightened to help reposition your teeth into the optimal position.
  • Clear ceramic braces: clear ceramic braces still have traditional hardware, but it’s made from a clear ceramic that makes it difficult to see the braces on your teeth.
  • Lingual braces: lingual braces are attached to the back of the teeth, which means your smile isn’t affected at all.

As you can see, braces have come a long way in the last couple of decades, so you now have plenty of good options for straightening your teeth. Ultimately, the question of Invisalign versus traditional braces isn’t black or white. It all depends on your particular problems, your needs, and your treatment goals. Dr. Valderrama will be happy to work with you to help you determine whether Invisalign or traditional braces is more effective for your needs.

Valderrama Orthodontics is a Melbourne, Florida orthodontic practice led by Dr. Natalia Valderrama, fondly called “Dr. V.” by her patients. Dr. V offers skilled and compassionate orthodontic care to children, teens, and adults. Services include not only Invisalign, Clear Correct, and metal braces but also clear braces, lingual braces, retainers, and mouth guards for sports. The Valderrama Orthodontics team always goes the extra mile to make sure that patients feel welcomed and supported. Contact the office anytime to arrange an appointment for you or your child.

What are TADs?


Over the years, many people with braces have had to wear uncomfortable and often embarrassing headgear. While this headgear performs an important job in moving your teeth by applying extra force, wearing headgear is cumbersome. The good news is that many patients can now use TADs instead of headgear.

TAD is an acronym that stands for Temporary Anchorage Device. These small, screw-like devices work like small anchors that help your braces apply enough force to move your teeth effectively. TADs are not new – they have been around for more than 35 years – but their use has become more common in the past decade or so.

Temporary anchorage devices offer a more attractive and comfortable alternative to those orthodontic appliances with external parts braced by the head, neck or chin, also known collectively as “headgear.” Unlike headgear that sits in front of your face to hold braces in place, TADs work behind the scenes to give you a more attractive smile. Most people will not even realize you are wearing TADs.

How Braces and TADs Work

Braces work by applying force to teeth in ways that make the teeth move to a new position on the jawline. Whenever possible, orthodontists use the patient’s back teeth as an anchor. In some cases, though, the back teeth do not work well enough as anchors to move the other teeth. In these cases, an orthodontist might recommend cumbersome headgear.

Moving teeth to a new location in your jaw is a little bit like moving a stick through deep sand. You apply force to the stick to move it through the sand. As the stick moves, sand moves to the side in front of the stick and fills up the empty space left behind by the stick.

The “sand” in orthodontics would be the bone cells and other cells of the ligament that attaches your teeth to the bone. Applied force from the wires and brackets of braces causes teeth to move, while the tissues move aside and reform behind the moving teeth.

To do its work, though, the force needs a fixed point on which to push. Going back to the stick comparison, imagine trying to move the stick while you float free in water. Instead of causing the stick to move through the sand, the force of pushing against one end of the stick would cause you to float around while the other end of the stick would remain in the same spot. If you plant your feet deep in the sand to use an anchor, however, you have enough force to push the stick through the sand.

About Placing TADs

Orthodontists place TADs directly into the bone between the roots of your teeth. The dental professionals may place the anchors on the lip side of your upper or lower jaw, or position the TADs in your palate. As the name implies, TADs are only temporary – your orthodontist will remove them once your teeth have moved to the desired position.

Everyone’s mouth is a little different. TADs allow orthodontists to place the anchor in the location that works best for each person, depending on the patients’ individual dental needs and cosmetic goals. It is a personalized procedure, so the location of your TADs may be different from someone else’s. The orthodontist will decide on the correct location by evaluating the amount of force required to move the teeth and determine the direction, or vector, the teeth should move.

You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that this procedure requires only a small amount of local anesthesia. Placing and removing TADS is a pain-free, minimally invasive procedure. Your orthodontist will numb the area, so you will feel only gentle pressure as the TADs device is inserted. The entire process usually takes just minutes to complete.

TADs require very little maintenance, so they are easy to take care of. To keep your TADs clean, just brush your teeth as normal.

Patients like TADs because they are comfortable and nearly invisible but orthodontists like temporary anchorage devices because TADs produce predictable results, even in the most serious or difficult orthodontic cases. TADs allow teeth to move more efficiently and comfortably

To learn more about TADs, talk with your Melbourne orthodontist, Dr. Valderrama. Call today to schedule a free consultation! 321-425-5050.

Everything You Should Know About Expanders


Seeking orthodontic treatment for your child at an early age has one major benefit – expanders can be used to easily correct crossbites, overcrowding of the teeth, and shifting teeth.

Expanders, which are a specific type of orthodontic appliance, can play a huge role in helping to improve your child’s smile and oral health. Since expanders are commonly used in childhood and teen orthodontics, parents are encouraged to learn as much as possible about them.

To help parents get the information they need about the possible orthodontic treatment that may be recommended for their child, Valderrama Orthodontics has created a comprehensive guide that discusses what expanders are, why they are needed, and what to expect when your child has one.

What is an Expander?

A palatal expander, or jaw expander as it is called, is an orthodontic device that works over a period of time to slowly make room in the mouth to allow teeth to grow in properly. An expander can be used to expand the natural arch of the teeth, shift the teeth’s position, fix overcrowding of the teeth, or correct a crossbite.

While the general function of an expander is the same whether it is placed on the upper or lower jaw, there is a difference in how they work. An expander that is placed in the upper jaw works to shift and stretch the cartilage and bone of the palate. This shifting and stretching expands the arch of the mouth which gives orthodontist room to correct overcrowding and crossbites.

The lower jaw expander works differently. Instead of being focused on shifting and moving the bones and cartilage, it focuses on only moving the teeth. The ultimate goal is to shift teeth so they are standing straighter and aren’t tipping inwards or shifting on top of each other.

What Does an Expander Look Like?

An expander looks like a metallic bulky device. It is made out of metal. The metal is attached to the molars in the back of the mouth with a pair of circular rings. Screws are attached to the metal rings. In the middle of the device is a small metallic lock. Over the course of your treatment, you will take a small key, put it into the lock, and turn it. This activates the springs and pushes a subtle amount of force onto the bones and cartilage. The force is what is needed to expand jaw and move the teeth.

Who is a Good Candidate for the Use of Expanders?

Teens between the ages of 12 and 16 are often the best candidate for the use of expanders during orthodontic treatment. Teens are good candidates because their bones and cartilage have not fully formed. This allows the expander to easily shift and move the bones and cartilage as it goes with the natural growth of a teen’s body.

Expanders are not usually used with adult patients. Usually, an orthodontist will try other expansion methods such as tooth extraction or surgery to expand an adult patient’s arch or correct a crossbite. However, some adult orthodontic patients have had success with expanders.

What to Expect When Wearing an Expander

If your orthodontist recommends an expander, you should prepare to experience the following things:

  • Subtle changes in your speech. The expander is bulkier and it may take several weeks to get used to talking with it in your mouth.
  • Pain and slight discomfort will be felt for the first few days after the expander has been placed in the mouth
  • Eat soft foods, such as pudding or yogurt, for the first few days
  • Avoid super sticky or jelly-like foods as they can get stuck in the screws of the expander
  • Pain may occur behind the nose, in the temples, or around the eyes after the daily activation of the expansion screws. The pain usually goes away after a few minutes.
  • Extra saliva may be created in the first few weeks after the installation of the expander
  • Keep to the schedule your orthodontist created. The schedule will outline how often you need to activate the expansion screws and how many times you will need to turn the key.

If you have any questions about expanders or want to see if you or your child may need it as part of your orthodontic treatment, contact Valderrama Orthodontics to schedule a consultation. Our orthodontist will be able to answer any questions you may have or talk about a treatment plan, that may or may not include expanders, that will get you the smile you have always wanted.