Retainers: How to Keep Your Smile Straight After Braces


Treatment with corrective braces from an orthodontist takes about 18 to 24 months on average. Some patients can complete treatment in as little as a year, while in certain less common situations, it might take three years. But that doesn’t mean the process is over! Most patients are really excited to get their metal braces removed so life can start getting back to normal, with a new and improved smile. The work isn’t done yet, though. Once the braces come off, the retainer phase begins.

What’s a Retainer?

Once a person’s teeth have been shifted with braces, they want to naturally try to move back into their original places. If this is allowed to happen, all of the hard work and potentially years of orthodontic work could be ruined. While there used to be some debate about it, the scientific literature on retainers now indicates that they work to keep the teeth from shifting once your braces come off.

A retainer is another custom-fitted orthodontic appliance that your doctor will prescribe once your braces come off. There are three types of retainers:

  • Traditional removable retainers
  • Aligner retainers
  • Fixed retainers

A traditional retainer has a metal wire that goes in front of the teeth. It’s attached to a synthetic arch that fits snug against the roof of the mouth. The wires can be moved to finish adjusting the teeth, especially the front teeth, to finish up the orthodontic treatment. These are also called Hawley retainers.

Aligner-style retainers look a lot like Invisalign retainers. These are a clear, plastic aligner that is nearly invisible. It’s also called an Essix retainer. Your orthodontist has this type of retainer made from a mold of your teeth, once your orthodontic treatment with braces is finished. Both traditional retainers and aligner-style ones can be removed for brushing and flossing the teeth.

A fixed or permanent retainer consists of a metal wire attached to the back of the teeth. Since it is affixed to the back of the teeth, it removes all of the usual worries that accompany the other types of retainers, such as losing or damaging it, or forgetting to put the retainer back in after a meal. A permanent retainer can stay in “permanently” to avoid relapsing and shifting of the teeth .How Long Will I Have to Wear a Retainer After Braces?

The removable types of retainers will usually be worn 24/7 during a month and then only at night for life. These retainers should be changed every 2-5 years depending on the material they are made with and the care you give your retainers. Always follow up with your orthodontist to make sure your teeth are retaining all the progress you’ve made. Removable retainers stay in all the time for the first 30 days except for when eating, brushing, and flossing your teeth. After that, only 8-10 hours per night is needed.

With a fixed retainer, once they are bonded to your teeth, they should be maintained every 3-5 years by adding more glue to keep the wire covered. Permanent retainers also should be worn for a lifetime for your teeth to remain straight and the position you achieved at the end of orthodontics. One drawback to fixed retainers is that they cannot be removed for eating or oral care. This can make brushing and flossing more difficult. If plaque remains on the teeth in places where it’s tough to brush or floss, it can lead to tooth decay and other gum problems.

Caring for Your Retainer

Removable retainers can be especially fragile. The acrylic material is not very strong and it is molded to be an exact fit with your newly adjusted teeth. Leaving a retainer on a table and then accidentally setting a textbook on it can be enough to alter its shape. So can dropping the retainer. Exposing it to extreme heat when cleaning it can also warp its shape. If your retainer becomes misshapen for any reason, call our office immediately so we can have you fitted with a replacement.

Remember to follow your regular oral health care routine of brushing and flossing at least twice a day. This is easier with a removable retainer, but also needs to be done if you’re wearing a fixed retainer. A fixed retainer should also be kept clean. We can recommend cleaning products that are safe to use on your retainer, so it remains fresh and clean.

If you or your child might benefit from orthodontic treatment such as braces, Contact Us at Valderrama Orthodontics today to schedule an appointment.

Invisalign vs Braces: Which Orthodontic Option is Right for You?


The two most popular forms of orthodontic treatment for straightening teeth are Invisalign and braces. These treatment options can provide a straight, perfect smile, and can correct overbite/underbite and other orthodontic problems. Your friendly and affordable orthodontist provides both forms of treatment, but which one is right for you? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of both types of treatment.

Invisalign vs. Braces

Traditional metal braces use a series of brackets attached to the teeth, an archwire, and elastic bands. Ceramic braces which are tooth-colored are another option. Braces like these are adjusted several times per year at orthodontic appointments, so that they keep adjusting the teeth in the desired direction.

Invisalign is a system of custom-fitted, plastic, clear aligners that fit over the teeth. The clear aligners shift the teeth over time, similar to braces. The main advantage to Invisalign is that it is nearly invisible, so no one needs to know you are receiving orthodontic treatment to straighten your teeth.

Invisalign Pros

Invisalign’s clear plastic aligners should be worn for up to 22 hours per day. One major advantage of this system is that the aligners can be taken out for a couple of hours per day, in order to eat a meal and then brush and floss your teeth. Speaking of which, it’s much easier to brush and floss your teeth with the aligners removed than it is with metal braces attached. You simply brush and floss your teeth as you normally would. You also don’t have to change your diet with Invisalign.

Another advantage is that Invisalign is more comfortable to wear than braces. They are custom-fitted to your teeth. They still do apply mild pressure, which you will be able to feel as your teeth are moving, but it’s much more comfortable than what you would experience with braces. A 2015 study published at the National Library of Medicine found that people wearing Invisalign were less likely to experience gum inflammation than patients wearing braces. You will also need fewer appointments with your orthodontist while being treated with Invisalign.

Invisalign Cons

The number one reason why Invisalign treatments can fail in patients is because they lack the discipline to keep the aligners in for at least 22 hours a day. If they forget to put the aligners back in after brushing, the aligners can’t do the work of shifting the teeth. Invisalign is also less effective than braces when it comes to correcting more complex orthodontic problems, so they don’t work for all patients.

Braces Pros

Orthodontic braces have been around for more than 200 years, so they have a long and established track record of effectiveness and safety. The technology has also improved a lot over the years. There are also several different types of braces, including regular metal braces, ceramic braces, and lingual braces. There are more treatment options available, thanks to the different types of braces.

Metal braces are suitable for all types of orthodontic problems, whether they are mild or severe. Undergoing treatment with braces also shifts your teeth faster than Invisalign in most cases. You’re able to achieve more dramatic results in a shorter amount of time. In fact, you are often able to achieve a perfect result with braces. Invisalign is limited in what it can do when it comes to straightening teeth. With braces, there are no limits.

Braces Cons

Braces are visible. Everyone can see them and will know you’re having orthodontic treatment. This can be a drawback for adults who don’t want others to know. It’s harder to brush and floss your teeth with the brackets and archwire of braces installed. There are also strict dietary guidelines that you will need to follow for the duration of treatment with braces. Wearing braces will also require more frequent visits to your orthodontist.

Contact Us about Braces or Invisalign

Every patient is different, so the determination of whether you will be better served by Invisalign or braces will depend on an examination and consultation at Valderrama Orthodontics. Contact our office to schedule your first orthodontic appointment with us.

Benefits Of Fluoride In Your Everyday Routine


When you’re being treated with an orthodontic appliance like braces, your teeth will become more susceptible than usual to plaque. This is why your orthodontist will recommend fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash as part of your daily routine when caring for your teeth. Fluoride helps to strengthen the enamel on your teeth and makes them more likely to resist the problems that can lead to cavities.

How Fluoride Works

Fluoride is a mineral that appears naturally in a small number of foods. The amount of fluoride that a person can get from their diet, however, is less than what is needed to prevent tooth decay. The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements publishes a Fact Sheet that explains the optimal amounts of fluoride a person should be getting for their age.

The bacteria in a person’s mouth and on their teeth is what ultimately leads to cavities. When leftover food sticks to your teeth, especially from sugary foods and drinks, these bacteria love to feed on it. The bacteria then emits an acid that eats away at the enamel and weakens it. If the bacteria are left to run wild, they eventually cause tooth decay.

When the tooth enamel encounters fluoride, it actually counters the damage caused by bacteria, and strengthens the enamel. This is a process known as remineralization.

Benefits Of Fluoride

Fluoride has been added to community water supplies in the US and many other countries for more than 70 years now. Studies have shown that children who live in areas without fluoridated water are up to three times as likely to eventually need dental surgery of some kind. Fluoride in water is also estimated to prevent up to 25 percent more cavities in people from all age groups.

How Much Fluoride Toothpaste To Use By Age

Fluoride toothpaste helps to bolster the amount of enamel protection that is supplied by local water supplies. Parents can start using it as soon as their child’s first baby teeth start coming in during infancy. Here are the guidelines for how much should be used during every stage of life.

0 to 3 Years: Use a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste — approximately the size of a grain of rice — to brush your baby’s teeth. Use a soft-bristled brush, and be extra gentle.

3 to 6 Years: This is when kids first begin learning to brush on their own. Use an amount that is about the size of a single pea. Kids should brush at least twice daily, so morning and nighttime before bed work best for this. They should brush for two minutes each time. Parents should supervise their kids at this age, so they learn to spit the toothpaste out rather than swallowing it.

Older Kids, Teens and Adults: Once your child learns to brush their teeth on their own effectively, make sure they continue using fluoride toothpaste and brushing twice a day. This routine should continue through adulthood, with everyone brushing at least twice a day. This guideline especially applies during orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign. Using an orthodontic appliance makes it harder to get every area of every tooth brushed, and using fluoride toothpaste gives the enamel the extra strength it needs.

Using Fluoride Mouthwash

Mouthwash can help to give your teeth an extra fluoride rinse every day while undergoing treatment with braces. For children under 6, mouthwash is usually not recommended. They have difficulty spitting it out until they become older, and are more likely to swallow it. But for most older kids, teens, and adults, rinsing with fluoride mouthwash adds protection.

If you’re looking for an affordable orthodontist, we have Suntree, Viera and Rockledge orthodontic practices in Melbourne. Contact Us today to schedule an appointment and your first exam.

Daily Routine During Treatment


Everyone wants to know what their daily routine is going to look like when undergoing orthodontic treatment. That’s understandable, because there are a few changes that need to take place, with the main ones related to diet. The goal at the end of treatment with braces is a perfect smile and better oral health. So, that means that the temporary changes to your routine are going to get you across the finish line in the process!

Why a Daily Routine is so Important with Braces

Preventing dental caries (cavities) during treatment is especially important. The fact is that once your braces are installed, it becomes easier for sugars to stick to your teeth, which attract plaque, which causes bacteria to cause cavities. It’s a vicious cycle!

One out of every five adults has undiagnosed cavities, according to the Journal of the American Dental Association. Your orthodontist doesn’t want you or any of her other patients to fall into that category, so establishing a daily routine during treatment is critical.

Your Diet is the Biggest Change to Your Daily Routine

Most of your daily routine will involve something that you’re already doing every day — brushing and flossing. But your diet will play a huge role in the success of your treatment as well.

Our staff will give you lists of foods that are fine to eat when you are wearing braces, and foods you should avoid. Foods that are hard or sticky should be avoided, because they’re difficult to clean from your teeth and braces. They can also potentially damage your braces, which would cause you to make an extra trip to the orthodontist to repair them. Sugars and sugary drinks should be avoided as much as possible.

Acceptable foods will mostly include soft foods. Think of things like mashed potatoes, cooked pasta, steamed vegetables and so on. The dietary changes can be the toughest part of the process for many people. Just remember that it will be worth it in the end!

Tools for Your Daily Oral Care Routine

The main tools needed when it comes to caring for your braces are fairly obvious:

  • Soft toothbrush
  • Fluoride toothpaste (non-whitening)
  • Dental floss
  • Fluoride mouthwash

There are also some tools that are optional, but which can help some patients to fully clean their teeth better. These include an interproximal brush, a floss threader and a Waterpik.

Daily Brushing during Treatment

You should brush your teeth two to three times per day while undergoing treatment. The last time of the day that you brush should be after dinner, but before you go to bed (so sugars won’t stay on your teeth overnight). Brush for at least 2 minutes each time.

Special orthodontic toothbrushes will have longer side bristles, which allow them to work around the brackets and wire as you brush. Clean the exposed surface of every tooth and in between the teeth as best you can. An interproximal brush can help clean the hard-to-reach places in your mouth.

The reason why you want to use a non-whitening fluoride toothpaste is because if your teeth were to be whitened with braces attached, the teeth could look discolored after treatment. They might be whiter on the exposed surfaces. Non-whitening toothpaste will ensure that your teeth have a uniform color when the braces come off.

Daily Flossing during Treatment

Flossing should happen after every time that you brush your teeth. You should definitely floss before going to bed at night. Take a length of floss and thread it underneath the wire and between each tooth. Younger patients may have trouble with this step. A floss threader helps to get the floss in there, so they can really clean between the teeth.

Wrap the process up by rinsing with fluoride mouthwash, which can help protect the enamel on the teeth. A Waterpik can be a handy tool for blasting bits of food out with the water jets. Use it once a day if you add one to your routine!

Your daily routine as far as brushing and flossing shouldn’t be much different than before your braces were installed. If you think you or your child could benefit from braces, call our Suntree or Rockledge/Viera orthodontic practices to schedule an appointment today.

What Age Are Braces Necessary?


All of the research regarding malocclusion (a misaligned bite) and the need for braces shows that the best age for treatment is between 8 and 14 years old. Just because that is the “best” age does not mean that it’s the only age range that your orthodontist can treat you. There are simply some good reasons why that age range works best. People of any age can have a misaligned bite or crooked teeth corrected with the help of their orthodontist. These issues simply have an impact on the amount of time and the types of treatments that will work best. Here is a closer look at why the pre-teen and early teen years are the best age for braces.

Orthodontic Treatment is Not Just Cosmetic

Consider a young woman who wants to get her teeth straightened in time for her wedding photos. You might think that her bride braces are a purely cosmetic treatment. These invisible braces can start the process of straightening her teeth, but there are also very important health benefits that braces can help her achieve.

Having crooked teeth or a misaligned bite can make it more difficult for a person to speak, to chew their food, or it can even impact their ability to breathe properly. These issues can have long-term consequences if they go uncorrected. So, yes, there is a cosmetic aspect to braces. But the other side of the coin is that braces are correcting a problem that will get worse over time. Even if you do not fall within the “best” age for treatment with braces, you should not let it hold you back. Orthodontic treatments can work on adults who are well past the preferred 8 to 14 age range.

The Orthodontic Process Starts Early

A child doesn’t suddenly need to get braces when they turn 8 (or 13). We recommend that all children, even if they appear to have perfectly straight teeth, should be brought for their first orthodontic appointment by no later than age 7. Most kids will have a mixture of permanent teeth and baby teeth by that age.

Orthodontists are trained to examine a child’s teeth and determine what is going to happen when the rest of the adult teeth erupt. They can predict if things are likely to go smoothly, or if the child will need braces later on. Will their teeth be “crowded” in the mouth when they come in? Will some teeth come in crooked? Will issues with their teeth or jaw cause a malocclusion? Can early prevention reduce the amount of time that they will need treatment with braces? All of these questions can be determined with very good accuracy when an orthodontist examines your child around age 7.

The “Best” Age for Braces

As we mentioned, 8 to 14 is the typical age when it is “best” for a patient to be treated with braces. Why is this?

Before a child has fully gone through puberty, the connective tissues in their mouth and their bone structure are more pliable. It is easier to make dramatic adjustments to the teeth when they are this age. And an easier treatment process means that you will be wearing braces for a shorter amount of time. The average amount of time that patients undergo treatment with braces is about 22 months. Most people would agree that it would be preferable to adjust the teeth in just 12 months, however.

When a person gets older and they have all of their adult teeth, bone structure and connective tissues can be more stubborn when adjusting with braces. This will translate into a longer amount of time required for successful treatment. This is why we try to get braces on young patients during that 8 to 14 window. It achieves the best outcomes in the shortest amount of time for most people!

Call Us for an Appointment

If it’s time for your child’s first appointment with the orthodontist, or you are an adult who thinks you might benefit from braces or Invisalign, give us a call at Valderrama Orthodontics. We’ll get you scheduled for an appointment and determine the best option for helping you achieve your smile goals.

Be Sure to Clean Your Tongue!


We put a lot of emphasis on the importance of brushing and flossing teeth when patients are undergoing treatment with braces, Invisalign, or other treatments. This is important, because we want you to have a perfect smile when the process is complete. That doesn’t just mean having straight teeth. We want your teeth to be healthy and your mouth to be free from cavities and gum disease. So, there’s more to your oral health than simply brushing and flossing. You also have to clean your tongue!

Even after you brush and floss, your tongue can still have residue on it that can lead to plaque, cavities, bad breath, and other problems. Let’s take a closer look at why you should clean your tongue every day, the benefits you get from cleaning it, and some different ways to keep your tongue clean and fresh.

Why You Should Clean Your Tongue

When bits of food are left in your teeth, harmful bacteria are attracted to them. This leads to plaque, tartar, and eventually things like dental caries (cavities) and even gum disease. Brushing and flossing does a pretty good job of keeping food and plaque off your teeth, and a professional dental cleaning once or twice a year is also necessary.

Your tongue collects unwanted particles too. The tiny bumps and grooves on the surface of the tongue can collect food and bacteria. We have a layer of mucus that covers the insides of our mouths, and also the surface of the tongue, trapping those unwanted particles in place. When bacteria and food particles get trapped there, it can lead to bad breath and a discolored tongue. Even if you’re very diligent about brushing and flossing, particles of food and bacteria on your tongue can still be transferred to your teeth, offsetting the work you’ve done on your oral hygiene.

Benefits of Cleaning Your Tongue

The Journal of Periodontology found in 2004 that cleaning the tongue effectively reduced sulfur compounds on the top of it. These compounds are what causes bad breath in many cases. Using a tongue scraper was found to be even more effective than using a toothbrush. Additional published studies have shown that cleaning the tongue reduces plaque and bacteria, and leaves the mouth feeling fresher. Cleaning your tongue can even improve your sense of taste, so you can enjoy the flavors of your foods more.

Cleaning with a Tongue Scraper

You can find tongue scrapers in the same aisle of the pharmacy as toothbrushes. A scraper costs a little more than a good toothbrush, but one will basically last forever if it’s kept clean. You can use a toothbrush to clean your tongue as well, but most of the research has shown that this tool works best.

To use a scraper, stick out your tongue as far as you can. Put the scraper as far back on your tongue as you can, without triggering a gag reflex. Put downward pressure on the scraper, and move it from back to front across the surface of the tongue. Rinse the scraper in warm water to clear off the materials you just scraped off your tongue. Repeat that process several times until you’ve cleared the surface of your tongue.

Scraping your tongue knocks a lot of debris loose in the mouth so it’s a good idea to rinse one last time afterwards. Clean the scraper between uses and store it in a safe place. The same process for cleaning from back to front on the tongue can also be done with a toothbrush. However, it’s worth spending a couple of extra bucks on a scraper because they work so well. Scrape your tongue at least once or twice a day for the best results!

If you’re thinking about affordable braces, invisible braces for adults, Invisalign or any other orthodontic treatment to correct your smile, contact us here at Valderrama Orthodontics.

Why Is Early Treatment So Important?


A child’s first visit to the orthodontist should happen no later than age 7. The reason for this is because the child will have a mixture of adult and baby teeth by this time. Once they have a few adult teeth, it provides a wealth of information to the doctor about how the rest of the teeth and the jaw are going to develop. Some orthodontic issues are going to be easier to correct if early intervention happens, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. Here’s a closer look at the importance of early orthodontic treatment.

Early Treatment Prevents Long-Term Problems

When your child has their first visit with Dr. Valderrama, there is likely to be one of these three outcomes:

  • No treatment recommended
  • Treatment recommended later on, so the doctor will monitor the growth of the teeth and jaw
  • Early treatment recommended

Some problems that are detected have better outcomes in the long run if early treatment happens. An issue with a person’s “bite” or jaw alignment can result in the need for surgery later in life. If your orthodontist can correct that problem while the child is young, the need for surgery can be avoided and the problem will likely be less expensive to treat.

Early Treatment Helps with Speech Issues

Does your child slur their speech or have a lisp? Do they mispronounce the letters ‘T’ or ‘S’? These are very common speech problems in children, but a lot of people don’t realize that they can be caused by a misalignment of the teeth or jaw. If a problem like this can be corrected in your child’s teeth or jaw at an early stage, their speech problem won’t be an issue later on in school or in life.

Early Treatment Improves Self Esteem

Many children struggle with self-esteem as they grow up. Misaligned teeth can cause harm to a child’s confidence levels. Low self-esteem can in turn have an impact on their outcomes in school and career later in life. Most kids love being fitted with braces, because it means a straighter smile is on the way — and all their friends in school know it too! Your child can even choose the color of the bands on their braces, which lets them personalize the experience. The confidence provided by a great smile is something your child will be able to carry with them for the rest of their life.

Lowered Risk of Cavities & Tooth Decay

When a person has straight teeth, it makes it easier to brush and floss for the rest of their life. Crooked teeth usually leave spots in the mouth that are harder (or impossible) to reach with a toothbrush. This means that the bacteria that cause plaque and tooth decay have a hiding spot in the mouth, and this can lead to cavities in hard-to-treat areas. If an orthodontist corrects the alignment of your child’s teeth when they’re young, they’re likely to have good oral health as an adult.

Reduces Teeth Grinding at Night

Nighttime teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a common problem that your child might not even realize they have. If your child experiences frequent headaches or neck pain, it could be due to grinding their teeth when they’re asleep. This problem is often caused by a misalignment of the jaw. If left untreated, it can eventually lead to a more serious condition called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. A badly misaligned jaw that goes untreated for years might even require the help of an oral surgeon to correct it in adulthood.

Improved Digestion

Food has to be thoroughly chewed in order for proper digestion to take place. And proper digestion is really important for a child’s development. A misaligned “bite” can mean that your child is unable to properly chew their food, resulting in poor digestion. Correcting teeth and jaw alignment at an early age ensures better lifelong health outcomes when it comes to nutrition.

Schedule An Appointment Today

If your child has crooked teeth or any of the problems described above, we recommend that you Contact Us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Valderrama. We serve patients in the Melbourne, Suntree, Viera, and Rockledge area.

Getting Used to New Braces


Going through the process of straightening your teeth to attain that perfect smile is what makes having braces so special. You know the end result is going to be amazing! But it does take a little while to get used to having them attached to your teeth. It’s a new sensation. You have metal, elastics, and wires taking up space in your mouth; it doesn’t feel “normal” at first. Here are some tips from your orthodontist to help you prepare for that first week or so, when your braces are brand new.

Ask Questions About Your New Braces

As soon as the procedure to install your braces is complete, ask every single question on your mind before leaving the office. Move your tongue around on the wire to make sure it’s not poking anywhere inside the mouth or on your tongue. Ask Dr. Valderrama about elastics,  and any toothbrushing questions that you still have. Also, check your supplies. Make sure you have all the dental wax and other supplies you need for caring for your teeth and braces.

Stick to Soft Foods the First Few Days

If you’re hungry when you leave our office, you can eat something right away. However, you should stick to a diet of strictly soft foods for the first few days. Soup, pasta, soft vegetables, yogurt, and other soft foods should be your new best friends for about three or four days. Any remaining soreness should go away after about three or four days, and then you can start trying some harder foods. And remember: No chewing gum allowed, ever!

Use the Wax!

Until you get used to the brackets attached to your teeth, they can cause irritation as they rub against the soft interior of your mouth. Your mouth will eventually adjust and get tougher. But until that happens, use the wax to cover the brackets and prevent sore spots from getting worse. That’s what it’s for!

Do a Saltwater Mouth Rinse

If your mouth becomes irritated from the braces, start doing a saltwater mouth rinse five or six times daily. Use one teaspoon of regular table salt and stir it into a cup of warm water. It might sting a little bit at first. The saltwater works as a natural pain reliever and helps sores in the mouth to heal faster. The saltwater tastes awful, but trust us – this works.

Take Care of Your Teeth and Braces

Now is the time to establish good oral hygiene habits, which will hopefully stick with you for the entire process of braces. After every meal, brush your teeth. Be sure to get all the bits of food that are stuck to your brackets. In addition to brushing after every meal, remember to floss at least once per day, preferably before going to bed at night.

Teeth May Feel Loose

Braces shift your teeth over time, until they’re all in the proper location to give you that perfect smile. But in order to shift the teeth, they have to loosen. This feeling can be a bit unsettling for people at first. Don’t panic. The sensation is perfectly normal when undergoing treatment with braces, and your teeth are not going to fall out. It just feels weird.

Wear Your Mouthguard if Needed

Many children who get braces also like to play sports in school. It is a good idea to have a professionally fitted sports mouthguard. This will protect your teeth and braces if you take part in any sport where there is a risk of being accidentally struck in the face.

Call Us About Braces Today!

If you are interested in dental braces for yourself or your child, you don’t need a referral to come see us. Contact Us  at 321.425.5050 to schedule an appointment and we’ll get the process started.

Keeping Teeth White While Wearing Braces


One of the main instructions your orthodontist is going to give you is to not use teeth whitening products of any kind while wearing braces. The brackets from your braces are bonded to the teeth, so only the exposed surfaces will be whitened. The best way to keep your teeth white while wearing braces is the old-fashioned way: by brushing, flossing, and a consistent dental routine. Here’s what we recommend.

The Right Toothbrush

Electric toothbrushes are more efficient at getting plaque and food particles out of those hard-to-reach spots when you’re wearing braces. We recommend a good electric toothbrush. Just be careful not to use too much pressure since the vibration could potentially detach the bracket off the tooth. Also, check with your dentist to purchase ortho heads to attach to your electric toothbrush. However, there’s nothing wrong with using a normal manual toothbrush as long as you brush thoroughly. We’ll even recommend special orthodontic toothbrushes that are smaller and shaped correctly to work around your wire and brackets.

The thing that’s most important is that you brush thoroughly for two full minutes, regardless of what type of brush you’re using. Brush your teeth in the morning after you wake up, after every meal throughout the day, and once again before bed. This is the best way to fight off cavities and teeth staining while you’re wearing braces.


Floss threaders work great with braces, although you can use a regular piece of dental floss for the job. There are also specialized orthodontic flossers or a floss called superfloss that we can recommend. It’s best to floss at least once a day, preferably in the evening before bed. This cleans the areas between your teeth, where your toothbrush can’t reach.

Non-Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste

You will want to avoid abrasive toothpastes or ones that say “whitening” while you have braces. A whitening toothpaste will only whiten the visible parts of your teeth, not the locations behind your brackets. A toothpaste that has fluoride will keep the enamel of your teeth strong, and helps to stave off cavities.

Interproximal Brush

This specialized orthodontic toothbrush is designed to fit into the tight spaces behind the wire. Try to get into the habit of carrying one around with you, since it’s a great tool for dislodging any piece of food that gets stuck. It’s important to choose an interdental or interproximal brush that’s the right size for your teeth and braces, in order for it to work most effectively.


A waterpik or water flosser is another great tool to use while wearing braces. It uses water to loosen pieces of food during your oral hygiene routine. The water jet gets into more hard-to-reach places. Remember that a waterpik does not replace regular flossing, which you’ll still have to do at least once per day.

Fluoride Mouthwash

Braces make it easier for plaque and bits of food to get stuck in your teeth, so you need to use every tool in the arsenal when it comes to keeping your teeth white. That includes a good fluoride mouthwash, preferably one that does not have alcohol in it. Alcohol can cause your mouth to dry out, which makes it easier for plaque-causing bacteria to form there. Remember that the same rule applies with mouthwash as it does for toothpaste and other products: don’t use a whitening mouthwash. Something with a bit of fluoride keeps your teeth clean and keeps your breath fresh.

MI Paste, HD Paste, Xylitol Mints

MI paste is sold only at dental offices by prescription and can be used to remineralize your teeth and protect the enamel from decalcifications that can appear during treatment. HD Paste can help you identify plaque left behind during brushing and flossing so your oral hygiene routine is more successful. And finally, 100% Xylitol products can help manage the harmful bacteria in your mouth to help protect your teeth while you are in braces.

Just remember also to visit your regular dentist every 3 to 6 months to have a professional cleaning done while in treatment with us.

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Be sure to keep all of your appointments with Dr. Valderrama, your orthodontist. Another important thing to remember about braces is that teeth whitening can always happen after the braces come off. You can use whitening products again or work with a cosmetic dentist to finish up that perfect smile, once the work of shifting your teeth into place is finished. If you’d like to know more about braces or Invisalign, give our office a call 321-425-5050 to set up an appointment.

Foods To Avoid With Braces

One of the most common questions we hear is, “What can I still eat when I have braces?” We get it! And the fact is, there are a lot of foods you can still eat with braces for the next couple of years while undergoing treatment. The important thing to remember is that you’ll end up with a perfect smile after all of this, right? Here’s a look at the foods you should avoid with braces, and some of the great food that you can still eat!

Why Some Foods Should Be Avoided with Braces

Certain types of foods can be damaging to the wires, brackets, or bands on your set of braces. If that happens, you’ll have to come in for an extra appointment.

Hard or sticky foods are the most important things to avoid. Along with changes to your diet, taking care of your teeth through good oral hygiene is also important. Brushing and flossing after every meal is doubly important. If bits of food are allowed to stay on the teeth, it can cause spotting or discoloration on the teeth when your braces come off at the end of treatment.

So, follow your dietary instructions and take good care of your teeth and braces!

Foods to Avoid with Braces

We’ve already mentioned that you should avoid hard and sticky foods while wearing braces. This includes stuff like gum and nuts, or hard types of candy like lollipops or candy canes. Foods like this can loosen the wire on your braces, or cause a bracket to come loose. That can delay or extend the amount of time you’ll have to wear braces, so it’s better to avoid those foods altogether. Here’s a list of additional things you should avoid while wearing braces:

  • Potato chips and corn chips
  • Hard candy
  • Nuts
  • Chewing gum
  • Sticky candies
  • Popcorn
  • Corn on the cob
  • Raw apples
  • Jerky

This is only a partial list. When your braces are first installed on your teeth, our staff at Valderrama Orthodontics will provide you with literature and brochures that explain all the changes you’ll need to make to your diet while undergoing treatment. If you ever have any questions during the process of wearing braces, you can always call us at (321) 425-5050 during business hours and ask questions.

Foods are not the only things that can cause problems with your braces. A lot of kids have habits of biting or chewing on hard substances, which can also break or damage the wire or brackets on your braces. You should avoid chewing pens or pencils in class. Don’t bite your fingernails, don’t chew on a toothpick, and don’t chew on a drinking straw. Basically, if you have any habit where you bite or chew on hard objects, you should break that habit while wearing your braces.

Foods You Can Still Eat While Wearing Braces

We covered the list of foods that you should avoid while wearing braces. That still leaves a ton of other great foods you can still enjoy during your treatment! You can still enjoy:

  • Pasta
  • Mashed potatoes (and gravy!)
  • Boneless meats
  • Soft, cooked vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Soup
  • Pancakes
  • Casseroles

Wearing braces is actually a fun and exciting process. And as you can see, there are still many types of food you can still enjoy. It’s also important to remember that treatment with braces is temporary. After a couple of years, you’ll be able to eat pizza with the crust again. The big difference will be that you’ll have a perfect smile when eating that pizza crust!

Dr. Valderrama is an amazing orthodontist who specializes in working with kids and all types of braces or clear aligners. Contact our office if you want to schedule an orthodontic appointment.