'Dental Diet' offers techniques for kids to avoid braces

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Dentist Steven Lin's book offers tips for kids to avoid the need for braces through better dieting and mouth exercises. (KABC)

Author of The Dental Diet, dentist Steven Lin wants parents to know about why their child's oral health is so important.

Bad oral hygiene can affect a whole host of problems throughout the body.

His bottom line?

"No tooth decay, no gum disease. We shouldn't get dental disease," Lin said.

Lin says our biggest challenge is food. The worst offenders are processed foods with little nutritional value, along with low-fat foods that remove necessary fats and fiber.

"We need to tell parents how to feed their kids and also how to feed themselves so we develop our jaws to fit teeth," Lin said.

He's a fan of grass-fed dairy and animal protein, fibrous vegetables, fermented foods that provide vitamins A, D, and K2. All are needed to create strong bones as well as a good balance of healthy bacteria.

"We now know there are thousands and thousands of bugs that live in the mouth that protect us against oral disease. That connect to our digestive system, the immune system, our brain," Lin said.

He says look at your mouth as an ecosystem that needs to be balanced with proper food.

Dentist Phil Kamins feels that has merit.

"Certain bacteria really thrive on the simple carbohydrates that are ubiquitous in our diets these days."

"There has to be a balance in the oral flora and that's going to effect the flora in the stomach and the intestine in the colon. The whole digestive tract is very much affected by what's in the mouth," Kamins said.

Along with certain foods, Lin says there are certain breathing or even mouth exercises you can do to help.

"Take a deep breath through one nostril and then we take a deep exhalation through the opposite nostril," Lin said.

He suggests trying this prior to a meal to help rest and assess before dining.

The nose breathing taps into the sinus' immune system which may help prevent dry mouth, snoring and sleep apnea.

"His idea of breathing before eating - it's an idea that's very interesting to me in that there are a couple of side benefits. Number one, it makes you pause and look at what you're eating," Kamins said.

Then have kids touch the tip of the tongue behind the gums of the front two teeth, opening the jaw wide.

That helps to strengthen and widen the jaw and may even help prevent the need for braces.

Lin suggests having kids hold that pose for 15-20 seconds, repeating five times. Then go for 30 seconds and so on, working up to a minute.

Kamins says the ideas are certainly thought provoking.

"We'd rather prevent disease than treat it," Kamins said. "Wouldn't it be better, wouldn't it be smarter to prevent the disease from happening in the first place?"
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