My journey in facial remodeling process first began by learning about the fact that palate can be expanded in adults and coming upon the realization that the reason why I was never satisfied with my smile was that my palate was too narrow (understanding that my orthodontic work of 2 years actually made things worse by extraction of 4 bicuspids & retraction) , after more research I found that wider palate provided other benefits such as ability to breathe better (benefit I am experiencing now as my chronic left nostril congestion is being relieved) but what got me most interested was that expanding the palate was enhancing aesthetics of the face.
Particularly I was always envious of people with wide smiles, previously thinking it was in the genes that accounted for these differences because my brother also had extraction orthodontics… But looking at it logically now, it makes no sense to blame genetics for the crooked teeth back then because my father and mother have straight teeth and they never had braces even though my father is slightly Class 1, but my mother had enough room to have her wisdom teeth come in straight, and to take one more step back and see the bigger picture I now realize my grandparents all had nice straight teeth & well developed faces and I can promise you they never had orthodontics.
Where do we go wrong? Understanding the causes of crooked teeth
At age 18 before any orthodontic work, I had pretty bad crowding, and more vertical growth of the face than horizontal. Thanks to Dr. John Mew and Dr. Mike Mew’s work I know understand how these characteristics go hand in hand.
There work suggests with ample evidence that it’s the muscles in the face that affects the facial form. If the muscles were working as they should when we were growing up, all of us would have developed our faces to our genetic potential and a well developed face has naturally straight teeth, no need for braces..imagine that…
So to understand the true causes is to understand what is disrupting developing our proper muscle function?
Considering the fact, that signs of dental malocclusion can be detected in children as young as 3-4 years old, then perhaps the disruptive causative factors are happening to us when we are mere infants?
An ideal growth patten is for the jaws to grow nice and wide and forward in the face, conversely poor growth pattern (kids needing orthodontics) is the jaws grow narrow and back and down in the face.
If genes are not to be blamed then what is happening here?
The ideal growth pattern begins right from birth when infants begin to suck on their mothers breasts, they have to suck on the nipple with considerable force to get the milk to come out, infants do this by pressing the nipple to the roof of the mouth with their tongue. The force vectors exerted by the tongue since it extends from bottom back of the mouth is always going to be up and forward on the maxilla or the roof of the mouth.
It is this force exerted by the tongue that drives the maxilla up and forward in the face starting right from birth.
**I must also add that sucking on the nipple also strengthens the lip muscles, which develops their lip seal, but many often we see babies with their lips apart when they are asleep.
1. First Negative Causative Factor: Bottle Feeding
We all intuitively know bottle feeding is bad because well the mother’s milk contains the real stuff, probably way more powerful nutrients among other things, but what I may argue is even more critical that a child is breast fed is when a child is bottle fed the whole mechanics of how the child gets milk out of the bottle is different from an actual breast. child can no longer get the milk to come out by creating negative pressure in the mouth with the tongue on the roof of the mouth, since there’s already negative pressure in the bottle…conversely child has to open their mouth and let air to come in for the milk to pour out of the bottle. And there you have an infant beginning to learn to breathe with their mouth and lowering their tongue and there you have the very beginnings of establishing the detrimental open mouth posture.
#1 disruptive habit to proper facial development is mouth open posture, because to leave mouth open is to have the tongue low in the mouth… and the shape, size, position of the maxilla is determined by the tongue being up on roof of mouth.
2. Second Negative Causative Factor: Baby foods (Mush food)
I know my mother breast fed me often but I also know I was still fed with a bottle time to time. With the best of intention, my mother definitely fed me mushed food as a baby so that I have no problems choking on food or I can digest it easier.
However it is a myth that mushed food is better for babies, on the contrary pureed foods could have profound negative consequences on the child.
Mushed food is bad because child never gets to chew and develop their jaw muscles but what’s worse than that, is with puree food the child is able to swallow the food down by suckling it down just the same way the child learns to suckle out of the bottle, without ever having to chew the food. If child is fed solid foods the child has to first learn to chew then learning to swallow comes a bit later, and since food bits are larger the child has to learn to swallow by using their tongue to push the food from front of mouth to back of throat. They are able to learn this proper way of swallowing using the tongue that goes to the roof of the mouth with teeth in contact naturally since real food has to first be chewed unlike pureed food that can just be sucked down.
if teeth is apart during swallow, the child still needs to create negative pressure to commence the swallow so the child does this by putting the tongue between teeth and using lip and cheek muscles to create the seal, the tongue is too low since its not on the roof, conversely the pressure from the cheeks and lips will beings to push the teeth inwards.
The ideal swallow should never involve the cheek or lip muscles, and the teeth should be in contact with each other. If teeth is in contact, I find that the tongue has no where else to go besides roof of the mouth to create the seal. If you find that swallowing food is awkward with the teeth together, you most likely have the infantile suckle swallowing pattern which you learned as a baby and it is having negative affects on your face.
My current orthodontist, Dr. Gibbs, has told me I had the suckle swallowing pattern because my teeth were tipped inwards and I can confirm that teeth together swallow felt awkward for me which tells me I never was swallowing properly.
3. Third Negative Causative Factor: Predominate Soft Foods Diet (high calorie foods)
Dr. John Mew says all child would have developed straight teeth and good faces if they were given a hard diet and lived outside.
Not only are hard foods important for babies to naturally learn proper swallowing pattern but hard foods also develops the jaw muscles which is referred to as “having good muscle tone” and Mike Mew will tell you muscle tone is everything for keeping good facial form.
What has been interesting to observe in myself is that even though I was consciously practicing tongue on the roof of mouth posture, I would notice during the times when I was coming out of sleep or half asleep states, I noticed that since my body was relaxed my jaws would fall open and come apart, when the jaw is apart it becomes increasingly more difficult to have the tongue rest on the roof of the mouth. Even if you manage to keep the tongue up on the palate the jaw open posture has negative consequences because the teeth can continue to extrude while there is no teeth contact, and since bone is malleable like clay and if bone formation follows the muscles then can you see in below picture how if the mouth is left open all the time that could change the musculature of the face and pull the muscles down and overtime that will reshape the bones underneath? and never in the direction you want! if jaw is left open the muscles will pull the maxilla down and lengthen the face. Also the gonial angle of the lower jaw will continue to open up as it adapts to the lowered maxilla. Conversely the mandible develops properly if jaws are together, jaws that are together grow together they say, but why? how does the mandible know how wide to become to fit with the expanding maxilla? Maxilla has the tongue that guides its growth but what about mandible? This is an area I quite don’t understand yet. But maybe when the jaws are closed the surrounding muscles of the face (Masseter, Buccinator, Orbisularis Oris) are in correct configuration and if the muscles are correct it follows that the bones will be correct?
My orthodontist tells me a story of a girl that got into severe automobile accident that caused her to be bed ridden and partly paralyzed which caused her to leave her mouth open all the time, before car accident she had perfect teeth and bite, after several month of leaving her mouth open she developed crooked teeth and her actual lower jaw deformed and changed shape.
I’m not sure how exactly all of the muscles in the face work but its not hard to imagine that leaving the mouth open must create all sorts of different tension and stretch of the muscles and overtime that difference in tension I’m guessing is remodeling the bone.
And despite all of my effort to keeping the tongue on the roof of the mouth throughout the day my jaw was coming apart during sleep I knew I was still missing something and there was more work to be done.
I have learned from Mike Mew that “the muscle tone affects resting posture”
It is the idea that a person with great muscular body will automatically have easier time keeping good resting posture than a person with no muscles. It’s like the muscles acts as a sling that holds up the bones. kind like how we wear a sling if we break our to hold up our arm in that position.
And I read one FB post by Mike Mew that said that even sleeping on his back he doesn’t have any issues of his mouth falling open because he has such good muscle tone.
I have decided to take these ideas to test, by recently going out purchasing gum and chewing them for several hours a day, and recently found the best gum to do this on Amazon, I have put a new store section on this site so you can get the same gum on Amazon and I get to earn a little commission. These are tough Sweden chewing gum called Falim and after just several days of chewing this gum for couple hours a day, I noticed that my jaw begin to come together automatically at rest and my jaw was still closed during those moments of coming out of sleep. Sometimes I take naps in my car, and the only position is laying on my back while the seat is lowered, I always noticed my jaw flung open no matter how much I consciously wanted to keep it closed.
After increasing mastication through out the day with those Falim gums and increasing muscle tone, when coming out of sleep I notice my jaws were still closed and teeth in contact which is a tremendous difference from what was happening before. This big change happened relatively quickly after I set my goals of increasing jaw muscle tone,however keep in mind that I’m quite hardcore with all of this and I began to chew gum for several hours a day. I presume most people will see benefits with even 1 hour additional chewing per day with gum.
4. Fourth Negative Causative Factor: Not Living Outside
Or living inside, with increased allergies and blocked nostrils leading to open mouth posture.
My current orthodontist, Dr. Gibbs, tells me an interesting case study of his son where he was taking impression of his son’s mouth every year since he was born to study his growth, this was before he learned about orthotropics, his son had some crowding and was waiting till he was around 12 to possibly take out 4 teeth and get him in braces which was the common practice performed back then. But one year his son got anti-inflammatory shots to suppress his allergies, the next time he took dental molds of his son, he was surprised to see that all of his teeth had straightened and he had the one of the most perfect occlusions he’s seen. He didn’t know what caused it at the time but after learning about orthotropics it all made sense. After the allergy was cleared away with the shots, the son established nasal breathing, the mouth closed and the tongue went on the roof of the mouth. Needless to say he no longer needed braces.
They say nasal breathing is the single most important thing for the child’s health.
I would completely agree but its even more profound than keeping your child from catching colds (since the nose will filter out various pathogens), actually your child’s future depends on it. As it is everything when it comes to whether the child will grow up good looking or not.
I remember as a kid, I had blocked nose often and during certain times of the year I had runny nose all the time. Which did not help in keeping nasal breathing, I presume I resorted to mouth breathing often and now all of this begins to make sense why I had crooked teeth.
Which came first? the small palate? or the allergies?
So looking back in my childhood I can confirm all of these disruptive factors.
- wrong swallowing pattern – since teeth together swallowing pattern felt new and odd to me
- weak muscle tone – with the modern diet of soft foods its quite hard to get away from this one, but I presume some have it worse than others, perhaps Asians are worse off because we eat much more cooked carb(white rice of course lol) than other races… and I never had gum chewing habit or anything. I can remember quite distant memory of mom telling me I was snoring. Also Dr. Gibbs noting that I kept my mouth open often during our first consultation.
- Allergies – this one I’m still not 100% sure about, I have heard that if someone’s palate is wide enough they will never have problems with their sinus blocking. And I too have 98% improvement in sinus issues once my palate has been expanded. So the question is what came first the chicken or the egg. Did I develop allergies as child leading to open mouth posture which lead to smaller palate? or did I have weak jaw muscles and in proper swallowing pattern that led to open mouth posture which then led to smaller palate and I got nasal blockages as a result of smaller palate? and it seemed that I had allergies?
Muscle Tone As the Most Important Key???
Going back to Dr. Jone Mew’s quote “if child has a hard diet and lived outside they would grow up with perfect straight teeth and good faces”
so yes actually its hard to say muscle tone is the most important thing. Having no allergies that blocks the child’s nose is also just as important but I presume most children with open mouth posture are largely affected by the fact that they have weak muscle tone compared to our grandparents or kids from less industrialized countries such as kids from below picture:
As Dr. John Flutter, an orthodontist from Australia, points out during his presentation about how mouth breathing’s negative impact on children’s faces, the kids in above picture all have their mouth closed with fine looking faces (except for one kid in the back with mouth open and the difference in the face can be seen), but he contrasts these kids to the kids coming into his office, they have play station and different games set up in the waiting room so they can have the kids distracted while he is able to observe their natural resting mouth posture and he says all of the children have their mouths open.
Research has been done that nearly 80% of the kids leave their mouth open now in the modernized world.
Is it possible that its all of the gluten and other stuff in processed foods that is causing allergies to flare up and causing blocked noses? but the percentage seems too high for all of it to be caused by allergies to certain foods, if that was the case then shouldn’t we see high epidemic of other side effects of allergies being reported to the doctors?
I know that the Japanese kids do not eat much products with gluten in it, and most kids grow up eating pretty healthy meals,a lot of fish in diet, etc. But the Japanese have just as bad problems of crowding as Americans,and I think the Standard American Diet has more processed foods.
Having strong muscle tone I think is a big deal since I saw the change in my jaw posture myself after just what seemed like few days of concentrating on increasing mastication. With weak jaw muscles the jaws will not be able to remain closed during sleep, and during unconscious times during the day (while playing video games), if jaw is left open during sleep its like not having your natural palate expander & forward face puller in all night long.
Although our grandparents may not have been the ideal they had straight teeth without braces, were there diet that much different than mine? I know they definitely still had a lot of cooked rice in their diet and they weren’t using their jaws like a caveman… I would still need to do more research in this area as most of this is getting very anecdotal.
One thing for sure was that they definitely were not as wealthy and standard of living was harder. Perhaps in today’s world, food supply comes to easily to us and in forms that are way too high in calories. Where as our grandparents had resorted to eating more low calorie “poor” foods for example instead of very tender meats the cheaper meats would of been a lot tougher, I remember my grandma told me she still remembers eating her first chocolate but that wasn’t till she was around 8 years old, she got some chocolate from an American soldier during WWII times. Perhaps that is the metaphorical view of the western culture spreading around the world bringing with it its modern curses of malocclusion and physical degeneration.
But not because of nutritional deficiencies as Weston Price thought but because it brings with it high calorie, “rich”, luxurious “ease of living” foods such as chocolates, candies, soda, cake, etc. That gets the kids chewing less and less, instead of eating an apple as a snack, the kid will now reach for chocolates which melts in the mouth and requires no chewing, and destroy appetite too effectively because of high calorie content.