Why crooked teeth? When you ask the doctors, you find that we don’t really know what causes teeth to grow in crooked. Malocclusion seems to have been accepted as normal part of life.
John Mew is a researcher & scientist as much as he is an orthodontist. The readers of this blog know him to be the creator of biobloc orthotropic system. But I wanted to write a bit about how one man uncovered for us the real cause of malocclusion and all its variations Class I, II, III.
Why we are still in the dark about what causes crooked teeth?
It is openly admitted in orthodontic profession that cause of malocclusion is not understood, yet they will treat patients with what they were taught in school and the parents entrust this profession as the cure.
But the relapse rate of orthodontic treatment is high (80% rate and up), so the question is.
Is orthodontics only achieving temporarily dental aesthetic result?
Anybody will tell you that real medicine is about treating the cause not the symptoms, so the problem never comes back. Can we really say that orthodontics is the cure?
How do we justify spending thousands of dollars for temporarily result?
How do the orthodontists justify charging patients $8 to $10 grand and 2 year commitment if they know what they are doing can relapse?
If we are all aware that these results can relapse then why aren’t we questioning the cause of this relapse?
And conversely questioning why some people never needed orthodontics?
The problem with institutionalized treatment & care is that it has become set on its ways, with much money and politics wrapped in it, to the point where innovation & new ways of thinking is not only discouraged but condemned.
but Science is about finding new solutions and questioning old beliefs & paradigms. Lets just say that current orthodontic profession is no conducive to “science”. They claim that orthodontics is evidence based, but you will find that this so called “evidence” they are referring to was studies done in the 1960’s to 1970’s.
I suppose if you look past history, you find that all innovative thinkers were first condemned by society. It’s not the problem of orthodontics but rather problem of human egos. When you challenge an old held belief, you’re challenging the person’s intelligence.
One business man said that signs of true success is you get haters.
First comes the haters, and then admiration. John has been blacklisted from Orthodontic community, his name is like the name Voldemort from Harry Potter.
John’s attitude to challenge the orthodox
“We are the product of our environment” a phrase we sometimes hear, but I believe it is more true than we are conscious of. It is interesting to learn about John’s upbringing and how the circumstances of his early childhood might have fostered the right person that is capable of bringing about change to an outdated profession.
John Mew speaks of a turning point in his own life, when at age 9 his teacher was discussing the message in the book of Genesis. One boy announced that his father told him everything in the bible was true. After a pause, teach replied gently, “When you are older you will find that grown-ups aren’t always right”
Wow what an edgy remark by the teacher…
This had an impact on young John and he still recalls that moment, and he feels it planted seeds of doubt in him against the socially accepted doctrines (religious,parental,etc), which later made him a challenging student.
John Mew: bit of risk taker & deep thinker
John’s parents allowed him great freedom to roam around in their countryside environment, at age 13 he manufactured high explosive grenades with homemade chemical research that he could launch from a giant catapult which he built. This showed his innovative, creative side as well as ability to take risks and experiment. He developed a respect for the law of chance after seeing the importance of trial & error approach to find the right solution.
There was a little book that carried John’s daily notes from when he was 16, reflecting on the deep questions that confront turbulent teenagers. Some of the passages were “Can man be altruistic?” , “How should we form our moral code?” and “Qualities of a perfect wife?”
Such deep thoughts from a 16 year old, John obviously has a brilliant inquisitive, introspective mind. Trying to make sense of his life as most of us do, he developed one guideline which was:
“There is a reason for everything”
Which he began to apply to how he approached life.
“This process led me to believe that the underlying rules of nature were relatively straight forward and “the truth in retrospect was usually simple.”” -John Mew
There are many other interesting stories of John Mew, such as building a sports car from scratch including the engine, his success at overcome dyslexia and winning writing awards, and various stories of creating confrontation with schools even leading a “revolution against unpopular teachers”. He never really liked to conform, which did make him target of ridicule at times.
Through all his stories there is always an undertone of few qualities I believe are important for his legacy in orthodontics.
- Instead of conforming blindly, to be inquisitive and ask “why”
- Taking Risks
- Not scared of ridicule: Many of us are scared to step outside the boundaries, John from young showed that he was not.
- Innovative Engineer: A bit of Tony Stark side of him, innovator & creator
- Introspective, Logical Mind: He obviously has creative thought, but if you read his studies he makes airtight logical cases about orthodontics that is difficult to dismiss
Much like how he figured out how to build a racing car from scratch, he then goes on to figure out how to create the best dental & facial changes in children & adults.
John Maxillofacial Surgery Background
Before becoming a full on orthodontist, John became a oral & maxillofacial surgeon and worked under innovative & most brilliant doctors at the time.
This is when he first saw the effects of bringing the maxilla up and forwards in the face and the changes it made in people’s faces.
Later on when he became an orthodontist, he found it quite perplexing that the oral surgeons were bringing the maxilla forwards while orthodontists were bringing it back.
As he was able to see the patients on going basis following treatment and seeing the effects on the face from two different procedures, it instilled in him a big question mark for any approach that brings the maxilla back. (ie: traditional braces)
Girl on the left had surgery to bring maxilla forwards, girl on right is Candice Swanepoel, victoria secret model with forward maxilla.
When you see changes like on the left, its pretty easy to understand the importance of forward maxilla.
John challenges conventional orthodontics
John was never satisfied with the results of conventional orthodontics that brought the maxilla back. Through years of studying kid’s faces, John Mew has discovered that there are two types of facial growth pattern in children.
- Horizontal Growth – the jaws grow forwards
- Vertical Growth – the jaws grow downwards
He noticed that kids with horizontal growth had naturally straight teeth and the face looked better, while kids with crooked teeth had some vertical growth and the face was not as good looking. And also noted that the further down the jaws dropped the more severe the malocclusion became.
We tend to believe that teeth just accidentally grow in crooked, but crooked teeth is the symptom not the cause itself. It is the tip of the ice berg. The problem that we can most easily identify, but behind it is a problem with facial development, which also becomes increasingly difficult subject matter to discuss as now the topic becomes very personal.
He began to drift off from traditional orthodontic approach that only looked at the teeth, because he realized the kids coming to his office had a jaw growth problem not a teeth problem.
The longer the face gets, the more narrow and shallow it becomes and the teeth run out of space, because there is only so much bone! It is as simple as that.
The inquisitive John Mew embarked on a lifelong long mission to find out why sometimes the face grew forwards and sometimes it grew downwards. What are the rules? The causes?
It is this search that has begun to uncover the mystery of crooked teeth, a condition that now affects over 80% of the children.
So Why are Some Kid’s Faces growing vertical?
John found that the biggest factor that influence bone is posture.
And Oral Posture is directly influenced by function (or usage).
Just look at headbinding, footbinding, or neck stretching via rings practices to see that bone is malleable to long term forces.
To put it simply…
Faces will not be able to grow downwards if the child has strong jaw muslces to keep the mouth closed.
The growth has to occur one direction or another.
If the child keeps their mouth SHUT and has strong muscles throughout childhood, then the face will only grow forwards.
If the child however has weak jaw muscles and hangs their mouth open often, the face loses support and grows downwards.
Therefore, the reason we see such high cases of crooked teeth today is that our modern diet has become too soft, and we are not using our jaws enough, which is leading to very poor muscle tone or weak jaw muscles, that then is shifting our resting oral posture to open mouth posture.
Genetics aside, open mouth posture will make anyone less attractive with narrow palate and crooked teeth in due time.
The cause of various patterns of malocclusion
When the face grows down, not only do we lose space for teeth but for tongue as well. The tongue gets shoved back into the airway so children respond by adopting various compensatory postures.
1. Class I Malocclusion: Posturing the tongue between teeth, and lighting biting it down to “hold it” out of the airway. Jaw is at least held together so bite alignment is maintained but because of lack of tongue support the face continues to go vertical and mouth is held open more and more. Malocclusion can be mild to severe.
2. Class II Malocclusion: Mouth is left open most of the time. Face goes south but the lower jaw downswings further because its now left open, causing the lower jaw to be too far back.
3. Class III Malocclusion: Tongue is held in the lower jaw and the lower jaw is held forwards (jutted out) to get the whole volume of tongue out of the airway. By posturing the lower jaw forwards it remodels to that position and encourage its over development. Because lack of tongue support on the upper palate, the maxilla is underdeveloped and drops down. Causing flat mid face and the lower jaw is now further forward than the upper.
4. Class II Division 2: The tongue is rolled up, spread sideways and held by the back teeth, because the tongue is postured at the back of the mouth, the individual tend to suck their lips back, and because the tongue is not there to support the front teeth, they collapse inwards.
4. Bimaxillarly Protrusion: The patient has enough muscle tone to keep the mouth shut but the tongue is low and is held against the front teeth, which pushes them out causing the whole front dentition to protrude.
5. Anterior Open Bite: Like bimaxillarly protrusion tongue rests at the teeth level but the muscle tone is weaker so the tongue goes right through the front teeth. The tongue causing the front teeth to separate over time.
6. Unilateral Open Bite: Tongue is held at the sides. So one side of the bite doesn’t meet.
7. Complete Open Bite: Tongue is placed all across the dental arch, but the last molars managed to slip behind the tongue and meet. So only the molars touch with mouth closed.
8. Bilateral Posterior Open Bite (Deep Bite): Tongue is postured between the back teeth, preventing the eruption of molars and premolars and intruding them, so only the front teeth meet, the canines or incisors. This causes the back teeth to be very low in height while the front teeth are regular height, so when closing the mouth front teeth touch first, or biting the back teeth they meet too deep.
John Mew’s belief that “There is a reason for everything”
Was critical in uncovering the mystery behind many variations of crooked teeth.
The fact of the matter is, no matter how complex a case may be, there is a reason for it or causation to all conditions. And overwhelming evidence suggests that the answers lie in the soft tissue (Oral Posture & Function)
I began this journey of reverse extraction orthodontics 2.5 years ago without much idea of what actually caused the crooked teeth in the first place which began to manifest when I was very little. I prescribed to many theories, but nothing that I’ve seen has ever even came close to John Mew’s knowledge which is so complete, clear, & airtight logical explanation that only way to dismiss it is to consciously or unconsciously turn deaf ear to it and choose ignorance.
John’s research & findings are relentless. He truly leaves no pebble unturned. Everything has indeed a reason no matter how severe and complex a case may seem.
He is truly ahead of his time in his level of understanding when it comes to not only teeth but facial development. Compared to your regular orthodontists, its light years.
It is truly a shame that his teachings are not taught in all the orthodontic schools yet, when he had the information in the 70s-80’s.
Some good doctors have adopted these teachings and doing great work for children but the numbers are no where near what it needs to be. For the most part, conventional orthodontics is stuck in the stone ages but what’s more criminal is that they are still involved in practices of bringing the maxilla back, despite alarming number patients that are dealing with more issues down the road than before treatment.
How long will the ignorance continue?
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John Mew’s work can be found here: http://orthotropics.com/