Here’s How You Can Help Keep Your Kids From Having Crooked Teeth

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Steven Lin Dentist
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Americans spend more than any other country on medicine and treatment, yet sit at No. 42 in life expectancy and No. 56 in infant mortality. Making actual savings to your health budget means taking a hard look at big ticket items first. For parents raising children, one of the largest costs is orthodontic braces. Today around 4.65 million children in the U.S. get braces every year. With an average cost range between $4,685 and $6,500, the orthodontic industry has annual revenue of $11 billion per year.

Here’s what parents aren’t told. Dental malocclusions (crooked teeth) and wisdom teeth impactions are both due to poor jaw growth. I believe that one of the major reasons that children are not able to grow “mouths to fit their teeth,” is the nature of the foods on supermarket shelves. Since the Snackwell phenomenon of the 1990s, children have access to an array of breakfast cereals loaded with sugar, vegetable oils and artificial coloring. Add to this the Big Gulp Soda cups and it is no wonder that there are so many growth and development problems. The list of so-called “natural/healthy foods” often contains HFCS, high fructose corn syrup, made from US grown maize.

Also when a child’s jaw bones don’t develop properly, their teeth don’t fit. Jaws behave like any other joint in the body, as a musculoskeletal system. When we don’t use our joints the right way, they don’t develop optimally. Proper tongue posture that keeps the tongue up on the roof of the mouth, guides the growth of the palate and provides the “scaffold” for a straight smile the teeth. Ankyloglossia or tongue-tie (a flap of skin under the tongue) is a simple check that can be done at birth. Children with tongue-tie are at higher risk of developing narrow upper jaws and crooked dental arches. In Brazil it’s now public health law that children have to be checked for tongue-tie.

Here are some key things that impact jaw growth, impact crooked teeth, wisdom teeth and your overall health:

1. Mouth breathing and open mouth posture create long-thin facial profiles and increase the risk of developing crooked teeth. Training yourself to breathe through your nose through the day, helps to strengthen the airway to stay open at night. Tongue position, closed lips and clearing nasal passages with saline rinses all can assist in proper breathing and oral posture.

2. Chewing is like lifting weights for the jaw and is one of the most important developmental factors influencing optimal jaw growth. Studies that compare tough rural diets with softer non-rural foods show that chewing helps those living in rural areas develop broader, better developed dental arches.

3. The low-fat Snackwell phenomenon pushed diets that lacked crucial nutrients that hungry developing jaws need. Low-fat, high sugar foods lack fat-soluble vitamins that pivotally manage calcium in the body. Vitamin D is a perfect example of a super-critical nutrient. Like other long-bones, jaw bones require vitamin D to develop and build density. Three in four teenagers are vitamin D deficient.Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium for bones and teeth, and it also directs the hormones that guide bone growth. It optimizes the body’s use of human growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor. Vitamin D can improve growth rates in children with growth hormone deficiency.

4. Another fat-soluble vitamin critical for bone health is vitamin K2. It’s known to activate proteins that allow the body to mineralize bones and teeth.

Most of all, these foods should be eaten more often.

Vitamin D rich foods: fatty fish like tuna mackerel and salmon, oily fish, beef liver, egg yolks.

Vitamin K2 rich foods: goose, duck or chicken liver pate; dark chicken meats (leg or thigh); grass-raised butter or dairy; fermented foods like sauerkraut; Edam cheese; Gouda cheese; Brie.

Monitoring four simple lifestyle habits, tongue posture, breathing, chewing and food intake over a child’s developmental period, will aid in them growing straight teeth and preventing the need for braces altogether. Crooked teeth are a sign that the body does not have the right material to grow correctly. The mouth is a platform that shows you exactly what to eat for whole body health.

Dr. Steven Lin is a dentist, speaker, and the author of The Dental Diet.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.