Your Age and Braces

age and braces

The optimal age to undergo treatment with braces from your orthodontist is typically between the ages of 10 and 14. If older teens or adults want to adjust or straighten their teeth, invisible braces, Invisalign, or Invisalign Teen may be a better option. If you are wondering how your age can impact the success of treatment with braces, keep reading!

Optimal Age for Braces

Orthodontists are dentists specially trained to predict how a person’s teeth and jaw will develop as they grow from childhood to their teenage years and into adulthood. They can spot potential problems before they develop, such as overcrowding of the mouth. Thus, it’s a great idea to bring your child for a visit around the age of seven to see if braces are recommended. Sometimes there are problems that can be fixed as early as 4 years of age. This type of orthodontic treatment is called Phase I or early intervention. Typically, expansion is indicated to help a kid avoid further problems later.

The best age to ensure the most successful treatment with full braces is between 10 and 14 for most kids. This is called Phase II or full orthodontic treatment. The teeth are more “cooperative” to major shifting from braces, and are more likely to stay in the proper place as an individual grows into adulthood. Most (or all) of a child’s permanent teeth need to be in place before treatment with braces.

Another thing your orthodontist will consider is the condition of the jawbone. The jawbone is still growing at this age, so it’s an optimal time for treatment with braces. Most of the different types of bite problems (overbite, underbite, and open bite) can be corrected between the ages of 10 and 14. This is because the jawbone will still be growing into the early 20s.

Braces for Adults

If you are an adult and you have always felt self-conscious about your teeth, you should know that you’re not too old for orthodontic treatment. Braces are not just restricted for use in young teens. Approximately one in four patients using braces in the US are actually adults!

After they have started their careers, most adults are not excited by the thought of suddenly showing up at work one day with traditional metal-and-wire braces installed on their teeth. We totally understand this at Valderrama Orthodontics. Fortunately, there are a lot of orthodontic treatments that are less obtrusive for older teens and adults that can straighten your teeth — without advertising your treatment to the world!

Invisible Braces

Invisible braces are made from ceramic or clear materials that attach to the outside of the teeth like normal braces. They’re not really “invisible.” That would be amazing. Please let us know if you invent these! But they are less visible than normal braces. Teens have the option to choose special colors for the wires, brackets, and bands on traditional braces; but if you don’t know anyone to know you’re wearing braces, invisible braces are a great option.

Invisible braces are also sometimes referred to as “bride braces,” because women opt for them as they get ready for those wedding day photos!

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are attached to the backs of the teeth rather than the front. They’re unobtrusive and most people won’t notice you’re wearing them. However, lingual braces can be abrasive on the tongue and can affect your speech. They may not be the right option for many people.

Invisalign and Invisalign Teen

Invisalign products are amazing, and they are one of the most popular options available for people who need only mild to moderate shifting of the teeth. They’re as close to invisible as you can get for an orthodontic treatment. The clear aligners are made in a laboratory and fit your teeth perfectly while shifting them into the proper alignment. You’ll get new aligners every few weeks, based on your treatment program.

No one will know that you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment to correct your smile. Another great advantage of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen is that you can take them out for meals and tooth brushing. With braces, they stay in for 24 hours a day.

Contact Valderrama Orthodontics

If your dentist has recommended braces for your child or if you want to explore orthodontic treatments for straightening your teeth, contact Valderrama Orthodontics to schedule an appointment. We love serving our patients with braces or Invisalign in the Melbourne, Rockledge, and Viera areas in Florida!

Children and Sports Mouthguards


The American Dental Association estimates that nearly one-in-five sports-related injuries every year are maxillofacial injuries. Any type of contact sport runs the risk of an injury from a wayward ball or elbow. This is why mouthguards can be really important for kids playing any sports. This is especially true for kids who wear braces!

Benefits of Orthodontic Mouthguards

A mouthguard protects your child from the devastating effects of a collision to the face during a sporting event. If your child is being treated with braces from our orthodontist, Dr. Natalia Valderrama in Suntree, Viera, or Rockledge, a mouthguard can protect them from a serious injury to the teeth or the insides of the cheeks.

The occasional accidental blow to the face is going to happen in any type of rough-and-tumble sport. But just imagine having wires and metal brackets attached to your teeth when it happens. 

A mouthguard protects against injuries to the tongue, lips, face, jaw and inner cheeks. A custom-fitted mouthguard protects all of the soft tissues inside the mouth from damage, if your child should catch an elbow or soccer ball during practice or a game.

Some Tough Talk about Mouthguards

Ready for some tough talk? If you are being treated with traditional wire-and-bracket braces, you need to wear a mouthguard for sports. If a child with braces is unwilling to wear a mouthguard, then we recommend to the parents that they seriously consider prohibiting their child from participating in sports. The risk of injury to the soft tissues inside the mouth is simply too great. Even non-contact sports like gymnastics or figure skating run the risk of a maxillofacial injury, so we ask that all our patients take this seriously.

If you are being treated with braces from Valderrama Orthodontics, we strongly recommend that you wear a mouthguard — or avoid sports until your time with braces comes to an end. 

Types of Mouthguards for Kids in Sports

There are three different types of mouthguards that are available for kids in sports:

  • Stock Mouthguards: You can buy these off the shelf at most pharmacy-type stores. However, their downfall is that they typically don’t fit very well and usually don’t fit at all if you wear braces.
  • Boil-and-Bite-Mouthguards: These are mouthguards that are first softened by boiling them in water. You then bite down on them, to give them a sort-of accurate shape compared to your mouth. These typically don’t work well if you wear braces.
  • Custom Mouthguards: These are created for a customized, perfect fit by Valderrama Orthodontics. We recommend these if you have braces or not!

Custom mouthguards cost more than the cheaper drugstore types of mouthguards, but they are the absolute best option if your child wears braces. We also make them for teens or adults who have fixed bridge work!

Any type of blow to the face runs the risk of damaging the mouth’s soft tissues especially if you wear braces. A custom-fitted mouthguard, however, provides a cushion between the wire and brackets and those soft tissues. Other than avoiding sports entirely, there is simply no better way to avoid serious damage to the mouth’s soft tissues from your braces.

Caring for Your Child’s Mouthguard

Mouthguards are made from durable plastic materials, but they can still be damaged. Follow these tips to ensure that your child’s mouthguard lasts for the entire sports season:

  • Brush the mouthguard with toothpaste before and after each practice or game
  • Wash the mouthguard periodically with cool water and soap
  • Keep the mouthguard in a vented container when transporting it
  • Avoid heat, hot water, and direct sunlight on the mouthguard
  • Check for damage or wear and tear, in case the mouthguard needs replaced

Next Sports Season Coming Up? Contact Us!

If your child wears braces already, then our office has probably already advised you about a sports mouthguard. But if sports is a new thing for your child or you want to know more about protecting their mouth during sporting events, contact us. We provide a full suite of orthodontic treatments at Valderrama Orthodontics, including lingual braces, bride braces, Invisalign teen, and more. Contact us to schedule your next appointment!

Drinks to Avoid with Braces


Affordable braces from your friendly orthodontist in the Melbourne area are a long-term commitment. You will be wearing your braces for quite a few months and in order to ensure the best chance for success with the procedure, you will need to responsibly follow the food and drink guidelines for them. Here’s a look at drinks that are acceptable when you have braces, and drinks that you should try to avoid until after your braces come off.

Carbonated Beverages

Soft drinks and any other type of fizzy or carbonated beverages are bad for your teeth even when you don’t have braces. Sodas contain a lot of sugar, and carbonated beverages of all types are acidic. The acids in these types of drinks will attack the enamel on your teeth and can lead to tooth decay or cavities.

When you have any type of braces installed on your teeth, it becomes more difficult to clean them even through regular brushing and flossing. The wires and brackets make it difficult to reach most places and thoroughly clean your teeth. The sugars and acidity in carbonated drinks makes it harder than usual to clean these things off your teeth, putting you at increased risk for cavities and/or tooth decay. It’s best to avoid them entirely until the day that your braces are removed.

Sports Drinks

A lot of people are under the impression that sports drinks are actually healthy for you. That’s certainly the way they’re marketed to us! But the truth is, most sports drinks have sugar as their main ingredient. This makes them especially bad for your teeth when they are hiding behind braces.

The heavy sugar content in sports drinks can weaken the enamel of your teeth. A lot of sports drinks also contain fruit juices, which are high in sucrose. The sucrose is one of the most acidic sugar types that is likely to weaken the structure of your teeth and lead to tooth decay.

Any type of sports drink that has real lemon juice in it should especially be avoided. Lemon is the most acidic of all the fruit juices available. Thus, you should avoid it entirely until after the braces come off.

Coffee and Tea

You have probably already heard that coffee and tea can stain the enamel on your teeth. These types of drinks can also stain your braces! The stains from coffees and teas can cause a process on your teeth called demineralization. When the minerals in your teeth are stripped away, it can rapidly lead to tooth decay. The stains can be improved with whitening products that you buy over-the-counter at a drugstore (after your braces come off), but any tooth decay may need to be addressed. It’s best to avoid coffee and tea entirely while you’re wearing braces.

What about Hot and Cold Drinks?

After your braces are first installed at Valderrama Orthodontics, your teeth may be sensitive to hot (or cold) drinks for the first week or two. This is a normal part of the process. As your teeth adjust to the braces, the sensitivity should go away soon.

It’s best to avoid hot or cold drinks until that adjustment takes place. However, once your teeth adjust, these drinks should be fine.

There is one type of hot drink that you can enjoy while you are being treated with braces: Soup! A nice cup of hot soup can help to fill you up, and it’s much easier to keep your teeth clean after drinking when compared to a sandwich or something else that’s going to stick to your braces.

Contact Valderrama Orthodontics for Braces

If you’re interested in braces or Invisalign for you or your teenager, contact our office to set up an appointment. We specialize in helping patients achieve the perfect smile in Suntree, Viera and Rockledge through our orthodontic practice. We offer engineer braces, bride braces, lingual braces and much more to our clients. And if braces aren’t the best option, we may recommend Invisalign or another treatment option for our patients.

Your Teeth and Sugar

teeth and sugar

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a child or an adult — sugar is bad for your teeth, no matter your age. As your friendly orthodontist, we feel obligated to inform you about a food ingredient that is everyone’s favorite (sugar), because it causes a lot of problems for your teeth. Here are some important things you should know about your teeth and sugar!

Sugar Changes Acidity in Your Mouth

The pH level in your mouth can affect whether you’re going to start developing cavities. In general, low pH is good and high pH means that the acidity inside your mouth is about to start eating through the enamel on your teeth and can cause issues.

Sugar makes all the difference in whether your mouth will have a high pH. When sugars mix with saliva, it drives the pH level up to the point where you will start doing damage to your teeth. Regularly brushing your teeth after every meal is one way to keep the sugars and the acidity in your mouth from getting out of control.

Bad Bacteria Love Sugar

Sugar and saliva mix together to create a toxic base for bad bacteria to grow. In fact, the bad types of bacteria that like to cause gum infections, receding gums, cavities and other problems absolutely love it when you eat lots of sugar and then don’t brush or floss often enough. Eating too much sugar is like putting up a “Home Sweet Home” sign in your mouth for these bacteria!

How Solid Sugars Affect Your Teeth

Plain old solid sugar crystals are one the most widely recognized forms of sugars in our diets. We dissolve it in hot drinks, add it to recipes, and simply use it too much for our teeth to handle. We use it in regular foods and it’s also a main ingredient in some chewing gum and candy.

The problem with solid sugar crystals is that when they dissolve in the mouth, they stick directly to the teeth. The saliva in our mouths simply isn’t strong enough to wash that sticky residue away. Unless we brush after meals or sugary snacks, that residue just sits there, waiting to become a new cavity-causing bacteria colony in the mouth.

How Liquid Sugars Affect Your Teeth

Liquid sugars are more difficult to spot on ingredient lists, because they’re usually not referred to as “sugar.” These include a lot of different ingredients that end in the letters “-ose,” such as sucralose, glucose, or fructose. High fructose corn syrup is one of the most prevalent liquid sugars in the American diet today, because it is used in most processed foods, sodas, and desserts.

The problem with liquid sugars is that consuming them is like using mouthwash that’s completely sugar. It gets into the spaces between the teeth and can cause cavities anywhere and everywhere, unless you diligently brush your teeth after every meal (or avoid liquid sugars in your diet).

Liquid sugars create a sticky film on and between the teeth and gums, which leads to bacteria, which leads to gum disease, cavities, bad breath and more. Teenagers: Would you like to sit at home alone on prom night because of bad breath? We didn’t think so. Avoid those sugary soft drinks, candy, and other sugary snacks to avoid the bad breath and other oral health problems that sugars can lead to!

Why Regular Brushing & Flossing Really Matters

Since sugars on your teeth lead to bacteria, and bacteria lead to plaque, gum disease, and cavities, it’s important that you take charge of your own oral health. Sure, you can always get a filling when you have a cavity — but is that the best use of your time or money?

A better strategy for taking care of your teeth is to simply follow a daily regimen of brushing and flossing. Brush at least twice a day after meals using a fluoride toothpaste — and brush for a full two minutes each time. Make sure you floss once a day to get any food bits or plaque between the teeth.

Contact Valderrama Orthodontics

Another great way to take care of your teeth is to maintain regular checkups with your dentist, and with your orthodontist in the Suntree, Viera, and Rockledge areas. At Valderrama Orthodontics, we specialize in invisible braces, bride braces, Invisalign, Clear Correct and many other orthodontic practices that can help give you that perfect smile! Call us to schedule your next appointment.

Am I a Good Candidate for Invisalign?


If you’re interested in straightening your teeth for that perfect smile, then you have probably heard about clear Invisalign treatment. Invisalign is an extremely popular option offered by Valderrama Orthodontics for straightening teeth without the use of traditional wire braces and brackets. So, who makes the best possible candidate for Invisalign?

Why Invisalign is so Popular

Orthodontic medicine has a lot of options available that can help to straighten a patient’s teeth. Invisalign is able to achieve those same goals, whether the problem involves a minor underbite or overbite, slightly misaligned teeth, or something else.

Invisalign involves wearing clear — nearly invisible — plastic aligners over your teeth for at least 22 hours a day. One of the most attractive things about Invisalign for patients (other than the near invisibility) is that they are removable. You take them off to eat, drink, and brush your teeth. This is unlike metal braces which are attached to the teeth around the clock.

Because they are removable, Invisalign aligners don’t require the dietary changes that come with traditional braces. You remove the aligners, eat whatever you want, brush your teeth, and put them back in!

Who Makes the Best Invisalign Candidate?

Patients in their late teens through the adult years make the best candidates for Invisalign, so long as the orthodontic correction needed does not involve the bone structure of the jaw. Some orthodontic problems, such as a severe overbite or underbite, simply cannot be corrected by Invisalign.

But if the required adjustments to give you that perfect smile are mild to moderate, and do not require realignment of the jaw, you might be the perfect candidate for this popular treatment.

Traditional braces might be a better choice for you if the back teeth need major adjustments, if you have existing bridge work, or if the teeth need to be shifted vertically instead of horizontally. We should also note that younger teens and children usually are not as good candidates for Invisalign. This is because their jaw is still growing. For younger teens, traditional braces are usually the better option.

How Do I Get Invisalign?

The process starts with a consultation with your friendly, affordable orthodontist. We will do a standard exam here at Valderrama Orthodontics, including X-rays, and have a conversation about your smile goals. We’ll talk about the best options for meeting those goals. If it is Invisalign, then it’s off to the races!

Once the aligners are created for you, it will require regular visits to make sure the teeth are shifting properly, and to ensure that you’re receiving new aligners every few months to keep the process moving forward. Total treatment time with Invisalign can take between six months to a year-and-a-half, for most patients. However, you’ll start to see the results within just a few weeks of wearing your aligners!

For the best results, you will need to wear your aligners for at least 22 hours a day. If you take them out to eat, be sure to give your teeth a thorough brushing afterwards. Do this before putting them back in. The same goes for beverages, other than a glass of plain water.

Once your treatment is complete, there may be one additional step you need to take for an undetermined amount of time. Many patients have to be fitted with a retainer that they must diligently wear at night. Your teeth might want to naturally shift back to their original position, which would be bad news. The retainers help to keep your teeth aligned nice and straight after the Invisalign treatments end. The amount of time that retainers are necessary varies from patient to patient.

Contact Us for an Invisalign Consultation

We would be thrilled to have you as a new Invisalign patient at Valderamma Orthodontics if you’re in the Suntree, Viera or Rockledge area (or even further away if that works for you). The best way to determine whether you are a good candidate for Invisalign is to contact our office and schedule your first consultation.

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.