via Dr StevenLin: The way we raise our children is drastically different from how our grandparents were raised. From breastfeeding to the first foods we give our children, everything has changed. It may not seem so drastic to you at first, because each of these changes in ideas happened little by little over time.

If you were to take all the gadgets and convenience foods we have today and drop them in front of a mother in the 1920s, I suspect she’d be pretty confused as to what to do with it all. Pacifiers, rubber nipples, formula, juices with zero fruit, teething crackers, gummies, and more… All of these items are relatively new and are contributing to changes in jaw and mouth development.

Additionally, we’ve come to accept formula and processed snacks such as Cheerios as suitable nutrition for our delicate babies. We know these commercial replacements contribute to diseases later in life such as allergies, asthma, eczema, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. Yet, we continue to use them, mostly because I believe a majority of parents don’t realize these changes are causing such drastic damage.

As a result of all these changes we are seeing more malocclusions (various teeth misalignments) needing medical attention such as braces and smaller airways, which are contributing to the unrealized sleep-disordered breathing epidemic. In the 10 years I’ve been in dental practice, I’ve seen first hand the impact that breastfeeding, diet, and baby gadgets have on the health of patients later in life.

Fortunately, functional dentistry is building a way to prevent crooked teeth. It depends on how we raise our babies. It also depends on recognizing how food shapes dental growth. Let’s look at what can be done when you raise your babies from breastfeeding until their first meals.

Recent study thoroughly examines the links between infant health, habits, and teeth alignment

A recent study in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, found significant evidence suggesting infant health, pacifier use, and breastfeeding impact mouth development. Specifically, how each of these three factors caused (or didn’t cause) teeth misalignment.

This study was designed to examine the way babies grew up in their first few months when they were born to adolescent mothers. Young moms were chosen because there have been previous studies that indicate babies to younger mothers often have teeth misalignment. So, researchers set out to find out which health indicators were the cause of dental development issues in babies of young mothers.

The study highlighted a couple of important pieces of information:

  • Poor perinatal health increased the chance of malocclusions (misaligned teeth)
  • Pacifier use made teeth misalignment more likely
  • Children who breastfed for longer had a lower rate of dental issues

Children in this study who scored low on the Apgar score (a means for measuring vitality and health of a baby) were more likely to have permanent dental issues. Younger moms tend to use pacifiers more and stop breastfeeding earlier, which is now known to contribute to teeth misalignment.

While most dentists, including myself don’t think pacifiers aren’t all bad (especially in babies six months and younger), they shouldn’t be used later than necessary. Interestingly, babies in this study who never used a pacifier had a high chance of misaligned teeth – suggesting six months is a good time to stop pacifier use.

This study also found the longer a mother breastfed, the less likely the child ended up with dental misalignment – adding to the list of benefits of breastfeeding. This study recommended mothers breastfeed their children until 12 to 24 months, for the best chance of preventing malocclusion.

How to prevent braces in your child

It’s taken years for the first children who used pacifiers and bottles to grow up for us to realize the extent of their influence. In today’s young adult generation we are seeing the need for more dental work, including braces. People now in their 20’s and 30’s are also experiencing a high rate of airway issues and sleep-disordered breathing.

Since we know development of the mouth, airway, and jaw begin at a very young age, we should aim to learn more about what we can do for our children. Dentists especially should be at the forefront of this research and educating their patients, especially those with young children, about what they can do to prevent braces later down the road.

To prevent braces in your child, here are some of the most important steps you can take from day one:

    • Stop pacifier use at six months old – When you use a pacifier past the age of six, it begins to change the shape of the mouth and negatively impacts oral development.
    • Breastfeed until 12 to 24 months – Breastfeeding is critical to preventing braces. The movement of the tongue during breastfeeding is part of what helps the mouth develop fully. Also, the nutrients in breastmilk are far superior to any formula you can find.
    • Avoid using formula – Formula use has been associated with several illnesses later in life. Whenever possible, it’s best to avoid formulas.
    • Start with chewy foods – When your baby begins eating solid food, make sure some of it requires chewing for jaw development. This means avocados, bananas, eggs, steamed vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes.
    • Feed your child nutrient-dense foods – Good nutrition is critical, if not the most important factor in ensuring your child’s mouth properly. I’ll give you the steps in The Dental Diet.
    • Avoid processed foods high in sugar and grains – Just skip the processed garbage altogether.
    • Incorporate myofunctional training – When you incorporate myofunctional training at home, you’ll not only prevent braces in your child, you’ll also ensure their breathing habits and tongue posture are as they should be. This will impact your child’s speech, chewing patterns, sleep, and facial development.

To prevent braces, incorporate these 7 tips into how you raise your children. Your little one may not know it yet, but you’re ensuring they have a healthier life.


Dental health for kids is a very important part of hygiene, which is the reason why we need to guide our children from a very young age about dental care and hygiene.  One of the best ways to get started is to build a routine and ask your children to follow it as that will keep them away from oral health issues, cavities, and tooth decay. Here are a few tips that will help you out for sure:

teaching-kids-about-oral-hygieneTeach Them about Proper Oral Hygiene

You need get started at a very young age. If your child is an infant, you can use a soft bristle brush to clean their gums. If they are getting their first teeth, be very vigilant about their dental hygiene and clean their mouth with a damp wash cloth after every meal.

Be Gentle

Baby Skin is very soft, so you need to use a soft bristle brush and use only a thin layer of fluoridated toothpaste. Remember that dental health for kids is important from a very young age.

Teach Your Child How To Brush

Once your child perfects their pincer grasp that is generally around the time they turn two or three, start teaching them how to brush. Get them a small toothbrush and only apply a pea sized amount of toothpaste. Teach them to gently brush their teeth and tongue. They should to brush independently once they turn five or six. Flossing is an important aspect of dental hygiene, so you can introduce that once they are seven or eight.

Avoid Sugar

Don’t go overboard with the sugar because that increases the chances of tooth decay. Teach your child to brush their teeth after every sugary snack because this will improve their oral hygiene.

Fight Tooth Decay

Your main aim should be to fight tooth decay from a very young age, which is why mothers are advised to avoid letting their child sleep with a bottle that is filled with anything other than water. Cut back on the sippy cup too because using it too much also causes dental problems.

Take Them to a Dentist

Once your baby gets all their teeth, which is around their first birthday, you should take them to a dentist. It is important to make them realize that dental hygiene is very important and the dentist helps us in taking care of our teeth. You can even ask your dentist to teach you about proper dental care, how to avoid tooth decay, and can ask them to inspect your child for cavities.


Keep Away the Cavities

You should talk to your dentist about fluoride applications and dental sealants to keep your child’s teeth safe and oral hygiene intact. The sealants prevent food from being stuck in the teeth and the fluoride prevents the enamel from decaying.

Childproof the House

You might know this, but there are several studies about dental health for kids that prove that children under the age of 7 get half of their dental injuries inside their house and most of them are injured by a piece of furniture. Thus, make sure that you keep an eye on the little ones to keep them away from the dental injuries of all kinds.

In conclusion, here is how you can take care of the dental health of kids.