In the same way as many of us Latino imports to this city, Dr. Marianela Cardenas came to Miami on a pilgrimage for something greater.
For her, the journey began in the mountain valley of Caracas, Venezuela’s capital city. It is a troubled but fine town, and she, like many of her fellow expatriates, long for a return of the splendor and liveliness that once lined the streets of the oil-rich basin. For the moment, however, her time there is locked in memories, the last of which belong to La Universidad Central de Venezuela, where she spent hundreds of hours poring over dental textbooks, locking up her core career in dentistry, and landing a degree.
Looking to broaden her opportunities in the field, she took off to Mexico City to pursue a Master’s Degree in Orthodontics at La Universidad Intercontinental. She remembers her time there fondly, and Mexico, being the behemoth of a city that it is, really managed to expand her world view by offering professors, friends, and classmates from all over the world. However, over time, Dr. Cardenas began to long for more. In a joint decision with her husband, Miguel, she decided to take the opportunities offered to them by the ever-growing South Florida. It wasn’t necessarily a difficult decision for the two as the weather, the cultural melting pot, and lifestyle are naturally attractive to anyone. She ended up receiving her Certificate of Orthodontics at Nova Southeastern University.
Now, fifteen years later, she has two bustling clinics in Miami-Dade: one in Kendall and one in Doral. She had also decided to take up teaching at around the same time and spent about eight years as an associate professor at her alma matter, Nova. She finds the act of sharing knowledge and education with the next generations as not only a duty but a pleasure. There is little she finds more rewarding that being able to be a conduit for this passion of hers in the young minds of people aspiring to grow their careers and individual identities. Apart from that, she notes that it’s very helpful in keeping her updated with the latest technology and treatment options to ensure her patients have the best quality of care imaginable.
Following are a few pieces of advice and insights into not only her career but orthodontics as a whole.
Why did you choose the field of orthodontics, specifically?
I find orthodontics to be such a beautiful specialty. Technically, orthodontics is the treatment of irregularities in the teeth (especially of alignment and occlusion) and jaws, usually through the use of braces and Invisalign. The reason I chose this postgraduate career track is that you not only benefit the health of patients but also make a positive change in their lives. When you have patients with severe jaw or skeletal discrepancies, such as overbite, underbite, crowding, spacing, TMJ disorders, craniofacial anomalies, or any other concern that makes them uncomfortable, it is extremely satisfactory to see the improvement in their appearance, attitude, and even self-esteem. This applies to both children and adults.
I find the act of sharing knowledge and education with the next generation as not only a duty but a pleasure.
What is a common issue you find with the teeth of your adolescent and pre-adolescent patients?
Malocclusions and bite problems present as crooked teeth (lack of space), spacing, overbite, underbite, facial imbalance (shifted jaws or discrepancies), the presence of an undesired habit (thumb sucking and tongue thrust among others), TMJ discomfort, early loss of baby teeth, and missing or extra teeth.
Overbite and crowding are the most common issues. A consultation can determine the need for orthodontic treatment.
What methods can they take to prevent this and other problems from cropping up?
I recommend that one visits the dentist regularly for a comprehensive check-up, cleaning, and X-rays (twice a year is recommended). Also, a consultation with an Orthodontist can guarantee early detection of any problem that can cause gum disease (gingivitis), caries, or a malocclusion. Prevention is the key! Of course, proper Oral hygiene is a crucial part of it. Brushing (minimum 2x for 2 minutes) and flossing are a must.
Around what age-frame do you usually recommend people come in to start seeing you?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends the first Orthodontic consult at the age of 7; between 7-9 years old is ideal. The child will not necessarily be required to wear braces at that age, but we can determine if there are any red flags or signs of early treatment with a detailed clinical exam. Let a professional give you their honest opinion and take advantage of a free consultation.
What are some other options, besides braces, that you offer in your clinic?
Invisalign is a great alternative for adults or any patient seeking an aesthetic, virtually invisible treatment. It is very efficient and comfortable for adults because you can remove the aligners for brushing, flossing, and special occasions. However, this method requires good compliance from the patient and, usually, the orthodontist will assess you to determine whether you are a suitable candidate before going ahead with that treatment option. Some problems need braces due to their severity, but there are also esthetic braces, named ceramic braces, or clear braces, which many patients seem to prefer.
Some mild problems can be corrected with retainers only.
In her free time, Dr. Cardenas enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, Miguel Andres (9), Santiago (5), and Luciana (3). They are huge fans of the beach and try to make it out there anytime the opportunity appears. She loves to travel and “collect memories,” as well as widen her worldview by exposing herself to and embracing the different cultures of the world. You can usually find her at one of her Flossome Orthodontic Clinics in Kendall (7887 N Kendall Dr. Suite 103) and Doral (3905 NW 107th Ave. Suite 103). You can schedule an appointment by calling for a free consultation at (305) 275-1094.
A consultation with an Orthodontist can guarantee early detection of any problem that can cause gum disease (gingivitis), caries, or a malocclusion. Prevention is the key!
By Andres Portillo