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

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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27 Responses

  1. Kiara Jones

    It’s important to take your kids to the orthodontist from an early age. One of my friend’s kid has a very bad tooth decay problem. Good Article for getting to know the symptoms.

  2. Cameron Jackson

    Hey Vicki, Very insightful and well-written article! The information you have shared through this article is really impressive. Thank you so much for taking the time to lay out this information in such a captivating and organized manner! Keep Posting Similar articles.

  3. Orthodontist 33626

    Thanks a lot for sharing this amazing piece of information – I love the way Dr. Steven has listed the myths and the truths about them. My child definitely keeps his mouth open while sleeping and his teeth are not properly aligned as of now – I have already booked an appointment for him at Durrett Orthodontics in Tampa, FL – a dentist near our house.

  4. Jessica

    We are starting the braces process now. One thing I’m finding is that it’s not just about having straight teeth. But the way your mouth, airway, bite, etc… line up. In the long run, this helps with development and prevents sleep issues as you get older.

    Who knew?!?

  5. Dentist in San Diego

    This was super useful Dr. Steven….thanks a lot for sharing Vicki! My child breathes through the mouth and snores in the night too. After reading your article, I have decided to take him to my family dentist at Hillcrest Dental Arts in San Diego, CA for a check-up soon. Thanks!

  6. Dentist Near Me

    So my dentist at Royal Dental in Pearland recommended getting braces before all of my son’s adult teeth were in, as well. After they explained why, it made a lot of sense. It was something that I had never considered before.

  7. Dentist Mississauga ON

    So my dentist at Dr. Jeff Levman in Mississauga recommended getting braces before all of my son’s adult teeth were in, as well. After they explained why, it made a lot of sense. It was something that I had never considered before.

  8. Rea Mesroe

    Interesting article. Starting your kids off with both a dental routine along with proper diet may be the key to developing a beautiful smile. We offer pediatric dentistry at Ocean Dental Center in Huntington Beach, California!

  9. Dentist in Moorpark

    Loved the way it is all explained – thank you, Dr. Steven! I am a bit late in reading this post but I actually got my kid some braces at Dr. Amy’s Dental Office in Thousand Oaks, CA some months ago. They’re a nice and friendly team of dentists.

  10. Durrett Orthodontics Tampa

    Thank you for sharing this amazing piece of information. My daughter breathes through her mouth and I double checked by watching her while she watched TV. I think I’m gonna take her to Durrett Orthodontics in Tampa, FL, which is quite close to my residence. Let’s see what the dentist has to say about it. Thanks a lot!

  11. Rebecca Ernie

    A huge applause to Dr. Steven for sharing these useful tips and debunking the myths related to dental health. Some time ago, on a regular visit to my dentist at Sinclair Smiles in Encinitas, CA, he told us about the importance of breathing through the nose and how it could affect our kids. Just recalled it on reading your article. BTW, I’d definitely observe their breathing while they’re watching TV just to know. Thanks for these tips!

  12. Rodney Dangerfield

    I agree with the concept of preventive orthodontics – don’t wait for the problem to arise – act before it does. I believe in getting regular oral check ups done at the Exceptional Dentistry in Dixon, IL so that any kind of intervention, if required, can be carried out and in early stages itself.

  13. Douglas Wiersma

    This article has given me a lot of insights and have debunked some of the common myths relating to braces. I had a discussion on the same topic a few months back with my dentist at Burnaby Dental, BC and he had some similar pointers too. Gonna check out Dr. Steven’s TedX Talks for sure.

  14. Suzy Carmella

    Growing up, I had braces. I hated it, they were annoying and caused me a lot of trouble. Of course I know the benefits of it, but still made things tough for a while. So now I am a father of a 7 seven year-old boy, I have my worries for him. On my last visit to Floss 365 Dental, in Kennesaw, GA, I asked the question, “is there any signs to know if he will need braces growing up?” My dentist said, that so far he seems alright, but I should watch his sleep habits, like if he is grinding his teeth or snoring. And so far he is clear of that, so I hope things go well for the little guy.

  15. Dr Dawn

    We always have to keep an eye on our son´s health. If we don´t it´ll be harder and more expensive later.

    That´s why I´ve always taken my son to specialists. To avoid more problems

  16. Robert Pacino

    Fun fact my dentist at Durrett Orthodontics in Tampa, FL 33626 actually told me that breathing through your mouth causes your teeth to decay/ruin quickly. I really appreciate them telling me this because one of my kids is considered a ‘mouth breather’ need to work on that ASAP.

  17. Affleck Ben

    These are 5 very helpful tips. Next time I visit my local family dentist at Islands Pediatric Dentistry in Gilbert, AZ, I will be sure to run this by them.

  18. Alissa Curk

    I never knew this before! I will ask my dentist in Sugar Land, TX 77479 at Sweetwater Dental Studio about her recommendations for orthodontics in Sugar Land, TX.

  19. Herbert Hoover

    I will be sure to keep this in consideration before my child’s next visit to our local dentist near me at Potomac Crown Dentistry in North Potomac, MD 20878.

  20. Elias Cooper

    My childs loves visiting Charm Dental Care in Spring, TX 77388. I will be sure to at Dr. Shah at Charm Dental Care in Spring,TX about this during our next visit to our dentist near me.

  21. Elias Cooper

    My child loves visiting Charm Dental Care in Spring, TX 77388. I will be sure to at Dr. Shah at Charm Dental Care in Spring,TX about this during our next visit to our dentist near me.

  22. Timothy Leary

    My Houston dentist, Dr. Lewis has told me in the past that it’s a good idea to have my daughter see an orthodontist around the age of 7. This is so that the orthodontist can assess her adult teeth after they’ve all come in to see if there’s any risk of crowding or misalignment.

  23. Roger Ebert

    According to my dentist in Katy, kids should see the orthodontist around 7 years of age, just to see if their teeth may need braces as they get older. By addressing any issues such as crowding early, your child could avoid later dental problems.

  24. Andy Flower

    Thank you for this very informative article! I’ve been trying to figure out whether or not my son is going to need braces, his baby teeth are absolutely perfect, but so were mine and I ended up with a horrible smile. So far it seems like he meets the criteria for everything on the list. I plan on taking him in to visit our dentist in Pasadena, TX soon to discuss orthodontic treatment and see if phase-1 orthodontics might be able to help us avoid future orthodontic treatment. Fingers crossed it goes well! Thank you again for this awesome blog.

  25. Liz

    That was an interesting read. Many points mentioned in the article came as a surprise to me. I’ll be paying more attention to breathing and give daily dental check-ups.

  26. Emma Sm

    this totally happened to me – I have always clenched my jaw esp at night but it was my thumb sucking addiction that carried on till teens which meant I had to have braces


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