Dr Steven Lin

5 Signs Your Child Is At Risk Of Needing Braces (Hint, it’s not in the teeth) By Dr Steven Lin

It’s a pleasure to welcome Dr Steven Lin, Australian dentist, TEDx speaker and author of The Dental Diet book (Jan 18’).

Steven’s focus is on preventative nutrition to help avoid orthodontic braces in children. You can follow him on social media @DrStevenLin and download his FREE EBook with 4 simple steps to healthier teeth for you and the family at his website http://www.drstevenlin.com.

Dr Steven Lin

Here, he shares how to detect if your child needs braces.

mother and daughter brushing teethCredit: Fotolia

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked as a dentist is, ‘Why does my kid need braces?’.

It’s a hard thing to inform parents that their kids have to wear painful, expensive and unsightly braces for sometimes, years of their young lives.

This prompted my interest in ‘dental disease prevention’ through nutrition. The problem is that parents are so often not provided with the tools they need to help keep their kids’ mouths, healthy.

…An exciting new field of dentistry is early intervention orthodontics. It informs us that breathing, along with facial and tongue posture play a primary role in how children’s teeth develop. A child who has crooked teeth for example, might not be breathing correctly.

The cause issue is food, though. Your kid’s jaw needs the right foods and nutrients in order to grow the way it is designed to.

Are you surprised to read that. Here I share more myths about braces.

Myths about braces:


You should wait until your child has all their adult teeth before you check if they need braces or not. Your kid’s dental arch is a sign of their overall jaw and facial growth. If they have crooked teeth, their skeletal system isn’t growing the way it should. The earlier the intervention, the better.


Straight baby teeth don’t necessary mean your kid’s teeth are developing normally. Unfortunately, a kid that has straight (and lovely) baby teeth may grow up to have a crooked adult jaw. The reason is that the functional issues that stunt their adult jaw growth begin with their childhood habits.

The first dental exam should be around the age of 4-5. Your kid’s oral development is influenced from birth and that development continues throughout their  life. Don’t wait until problems arise – get in early!

Now let’s look at 5 signs (not in the teeth) to help determine whether your kid needs braces or not.


Breathes through their mouth

‘Mouth breathing’ is a sure risk factor for crooked teeth. The reason is that we’re designed to breathe through our nose so we can deliver the most amount of oxygen to our body, in particular, the brain! Kids who breathe through their mouths are breathing cold, unfiltered and dry air into their lungs.

By doing so, they don’t mix their air with nitric oxide – which is released in the nasal sinuses and is a big factor in increasing oxygen delivery to the blood.

Kids who ‘mouth breathe’ will usually have their mouth open frequently and when they sleep. Whilst your child watches TV, observe them, watching how they breathe.


Snores at night

Kids that snore at night, might be at risk of crooked teeth. Childhood snoring is not normal. It’s a sign of improper night time breathing which is the a crucial and regenerative period for your child.

The childhood brain is going through a remarkable amount of growth and a lack of deep sleep without adequate oxygen will result in a tired child who struggles to concentrate.

Studies are revealing that the sharp rise in kids with ADHD may be related to snoring disorders in children.

Parents should always check to see if their child snores. If they do, it’s time to see your dentist and doctor. Other signs your child might not be sleeping right is if they sleep with their mouth open or on their stomach. Equally, if a child grinds their teeth or has a worn, short tooth, it’s time to see your dentist.

Teeth grinding in kids is far more common than you might think-

During sleep – teeth grinding occurs because the child is attempting to open their airway to breathe better. They push their jaw forward (sliding the teeth together with force). Teeth grinding can be a serious sign of sleep disordered breathing. A kid that has their full set of baby teeth and is grinding at night should be assessed for airway and sleep health.


Swollen tonsils and allergies

If your child has swollen tonsils, it can be a huge barrier for breathing. A constant sore, swollen throat may indicate that tonsils can be impeding their airway. Ask your child to open wide so you can see whether their tonsils are inflamed (red) and swollen (poking into the airway).

Swollen tonsils may be accompanied by allergies, blocked sinus, asthma and digestive problems. This is a sign that your child’s immune system is in a state of inflammation which is a result of their gut health. Make sure to consult your doctor/ ENT regarding tonsil health if you’re concerned with their appearance and your child’s health.


Be your child’s own dentist

Kids’ dental and facial growth begin right from birth so one of the most important dental check-ups is the one you give them daily, observing their mouth and breathing along with eating and sleeping habits.

I hope you’ve found this useful.

Dr. Steven Lin is currently the Principal Dentist at Luminous Dentistry



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