In This Article
Should We Pull Wisdom Teeth?
Have you ever wondered why everyone needs their wisdom teeth removed? Or why we all have crooked teeth? Bestselling author James Nestor tackles this and more in his new book, Breath.
It could be that our faces are shrinking! Fascinatingly, softer food and a lack of chewing for generations has caused some major devolutionary changes in the structure of the face and jaw, resulting in dramatically smaller breathing airways.
While our ancestors chewed fibrous roots; tough meats; and hard-shelled grains, nuts, and seeds, modern humans can slurp down scrambled eggs and toast, a smoothie, a burrito, or oatmeal in minutes with little to no chewing required.
While I have written about the many benefits of chewing, lack of chewing has silently caused a host of health problems just now coming to light. Most noteworthy is the narrowing of the upper palate, which changes the facial features to be longer, more narrow, retracted jaw, less functional, and less attractive. The upper palate should be flat between the molars, but with years of soft food, the palate becomes arched or V-shaped, making for a smaller mouth and less room for teeth.
Test it: Slide a clean thumb along your upper hard palate. It should be flat and wide with a slight arch. If yours is like an upside down V, then your palate has narrowed over time. This may predispose you to snoring, sleep apnea, disrupted sleep, and breathing and cardiovascular concerns, along with focus- and mood-related issues.1
Only 400 hundred years ago, all humans had straight teeth, according to a variety of skull collections. Today, because of a narrowing palate, pulling wisdom teeth is a rite of passage for just about every teenager.
But we don’t need to continue pulling our teeth away! New orthodontic techniques aim to eliminate teeth extractions and braces.1,2 Read on . . .
Learn more: Subscribe to my podcast and check out the Oct 5, 2020 episode with James Nestor.
The Nose Breathing Connection
When the face, palate, and jaw narrow, the airways shrink to as small as half the size of our ancestors’.2 Without the structural benefits of chewing, nasal breathing (our natural and preferred way of breathing) becomes a challenge. The devolutionary remedy was to breathe through the mouth, which is a trigger for a smaller mouth, crooked teeth, extractions, snoring, sleep apnea, and disturbed sleep.
Retraining the body to close the mouth during exercise, during sleep, and, as much as possible, during the day are the first steps to restore proper oral and facial structure and breathing function.3-5
We recommend "Are You an Overbreather?": https://lifespa.com/overbreathing/
The Original Orthodontics
In the late 1800s, dentists began seeing more and more children who had crooked teeth and V-shaped or high-arched upper palates. In 1859, the first palate-widening device was created, followed by the first mouth-widening plastic retainer, called the Monobloc. From then on, many improved devices were developed and used to straighten teeth; open airways; and widen palates, jaws, and mouths.
In the 1940s, however, a new type of one-size-fits-all dentistry that pulled and straightened teeth with braces became the solution for the masses of children coming in with crooked teeth. The Monobloc and its followers were soon forgotten, while millions of wisdom teeth were pulled. Luckily, descendants of the Monobloc and similar devices are making a comeback!
Functional orthodontics is a revival of the old school of orthodontics, which helps widen the palate and reposition your upper and lower jaw to support a better facial profile. This field of functional orthodontics works to correct both your teeth and your facial structure for people concerned about both their teeth and their facial aesthetics.
If there is a weak chin or misalignment of either jaw, the bite will be thrown off. This could lead to migraines, neck and shoulder pain, dizziness, sleep apnea, hearing problems, TMJ, upper airway obstruction, and poor facial profiles, according to the AAFO (An Advanced Field of Orthodontic).6
Functional orthodontics approaches straightening teeth in a different way. Instead of pulling crowded teeth, the jaw is expanded to make room for them. When appliances are worn to widen the jaw, both upper and lower, it makes for more balanced facial aesthetics and TMJ function. It also helps expand the sinus and correct sleep apnea and breathing problems. Functional orthodontics requires less extractions and may require braces to finish alignment. Find an AAFO dentist to determine your needs.6
Dr. John Mew’s Orthotropics
Orthotropics was developed by London-based dentist Dr. John Mew in 1966 and has been growing ever since. Orthotropics is primarily for children.
According to the North American Association of Facial Orthotropics (NAAFO), this specialty focuses on facial growth guidance for children. Studies show facial growth can be negatively affected by postural changes, such as mouth breathing.
Orthotropic treatment aims to expand the upper jaw and push the upper front teeth forward. A type of brace or appliance is then worn by the child to push the bottom jaw forward. This treatment aims to permanently move the jaw and face into the ideal position at rest.
Orthotropics requires a shorter period of daytime appliance wearing in most cases. Almost no damage to the teeth, extractions, or braces are needed. Teeth do not need holding straight after the patient has corrected their mouth posture. According to John Mew’s website, facial improvements achieved by orthotropics have not been matched by any other technique.9
Mouth- and Jaw-Widening Devices
The Homeoblock™ appliance is a revolutionary patented oral device. It is much like a retainer in looks, but the results go way beyond teeth straightening. The Homeoblock™ protocol is designed to treat facial aging and improve breathing by generating proper swallowing, tongue posture, and positional changes of the bones of the cranial facial system.
Worn only at night, Homeoblock™ is a removable orthopedic/orthodontic dental appliance, which provides palatal expansion and jaw development for the maxilla and the mandible in so-called “non-growing” adult patients.
Ideal for patients who want to improve their appearance and get a better night’s sleep via improved breathing, its intended purpose is to “evoke dentofacial development that is genetically encoded for each individual,” naturally, through orthodontics.
Simply designed and easy to use for both doctor and patient, the Homeoblock™ works in a retainer-like fashion. Worn over an extended period of time (though sometimes as little as several months), it theoretically acts as a signaling device—using signal transduction to communicate directly to cell genomes within the cell nucleus, which controls the construction and operation of the human body.orthotropics The Homeoblock can range in price from $2-7000.10
Documented Benefits of Homeoblock7
- Designed for slow palatal expansion, which stimulates an epigenetic response
- Generates a size and shape change in the maxilla and mandible
- Stimulates cranial sutures for new bone growth and sutural homeostasis
- Signals periodontal ligament and generates an epigenetic response for maxillary growth and facial symmetry
- Creates space for teeth straightening
- Promotes proper swallowing and tongue posture
- Tones pharyngeal airway and reduces inflammation
- Opens ostia to allow nitric oxide to reach the back of the nose
- Frees the mandible and allows the jaw to come downward and forward
The Biobloc is made for all ages by MRC (Myofunctional Research Company). It is a takeoff of Dr. John Mew’s original Biobloc for children. It is an adjustable appliance constructed of hard acrylic and arch wire that provides controlled arch expansion through the use of an adjustable center screw.
A severely narrow arch form requires arch expansion to create more room for the tongue. Some patients require increased arch development, combined with myofunctional training from MRC. A severely narrow arch form requires arch expansion to create more room for the tongue and a wider mouth, jaw, palate, and airways.8
The Biobloc is activated by swallowing. The signal mechanism exerts intermittent light force on the teeth, eliciting a bone cell response that changes the shape of craniofacial bones over time. Tension and intermittent light force persuade the bones to redefine themselves, resulting in enhanced facial symmetry, regardless of age.
We recommend "Ayurvedic Nose Breathing for Stress + Immunity": https://lifespa.com/stress-immunity-breath/
The Mewing Appliance™ is a device that helps you maintain proper tongue posture consistently. When placed in the mouth, the device trains you to mew properly by becoming uncomfortable when your tongue drops from your palate.
People of all ages have used mewing to improve their facial appearance. Although it is more difficult to succeed as an adult than as a child, data shows it is possible.
Mewing is a palate-expanding, mouth-widening exercise created by Dr. John Mew and his son, Mike Mew. The exercise, called mewing, involves pushing the tongue up against the back of the palate and sliding the tongue forward with pressure against the palate. Numerous YouTube videos on mewing demonstrate the technique. The mewing Appliance is an adjunct device to the exercise. It costs about $30.
ALF (Advanced Lightware Functionals)
ALF (Advanced Lightware Functionals) is a method of aligning teeth and improving the bite without braces. ALF is a whole-body-mind approach to improving overall health in every realm, kickstarting the body’s natural self-healing ability by using the biological forces of nature and removing obstacles to the self-healing process.
It addresses alignment of the bones using principles of cranial osteopathy. Doing this can improve spinal alignment, posture, occlusion, TMJ disorders, sensory processing /nervous system dysfunction, arch and palate development, and airway reshaping. It can also result in drastic behavioral and lifestyle changes for both adults and children.12,13
How Does ALF Work?
The ALF device is similar to a common palate expander, but does much more. The flexible wire device sits in the upper arch of the mouth. It impacts cranial rhythm and movement through osteopathic alignment.
Gentle stimulation of the ALF orthodontic device allows for a greater range of neurological regulation to occur, especially through the cranial nerves and autonomic nervous system. This new and innovative approach to orthodontic treatment works to integrate cranial mobility with palate, teeth, and jaw alignment, thereby promoting better swallowing, breathing, speech, sleep, and nervous system response.12,13
ALF is a great option for patients of all ages interested in orthodontics who want to address other health issues simultaneously. ALF may have life changing health benefits for patients who:12,13
- Are three years of age or older
- Want to improve teeth and jaw alignment without the discomfort and visibility of traditional braces
- Suffer from TMJ/TMD
- Suffer from migraines
- Have experienced a head or neck injury
- Snore and/or suffer from sleep apnea
- Have any behavioral disorders, including ASD/ADD/ADHD or emotional imbalances
- Thin, flexible wire, barely visible from the outside.
- More comfortable than braces.
- Stable and does not require patients to sleep in a retainer after treatment is complete.
- Because it was created by a dentist with the help of an osteopath, it addresses the WHOLE BODY.
- Enhances cranial motion.
- Can improve many other health concerns, such as headaches, neck and back pain, and digestive issues, on top of the benefits of cosmetic orthodontia.
Do you think your palate and jaw are the right size? If not, what options have you considered? If you have tried any of the above techniques to recover our original skull shape, let us know how it went for you in the comments below!
12 thoughts on “Is Your Face Too Small for Wisdom Teeth? Non-Invasive Therapies for Snoring, Migraines, TMJ + More”
According to my dentist, bottle feeding babies is also a contributor to narrower jaws. Breast feeding apparently helps the mouth and jaw develop.
Thank you for the info on these therapies. I’m a prime example, I have a narrow face and jaw, had 8 teeth pulled prior to braces, have had tmj issues, and now have sleep apnea and an ADD diagnosis. Currently using a Metz appliance to position my jaw forward during sleep but I’m not clear on how much it helps because my sleep is still not good or restful.
Thanks for highlighting this important topic. I am using a Vivos expanding appliance, which is similar to Homeoblock, but a more advanced design. It splits into 3 sections instead of 2, expanding both wider and more forward, has a little spring behind each tooth to apply consistent gentle outward pressure. I am only a month into treatment, can already feel nasal passages are wider, and I can now retract my head into proper upright posture without feeling my airway close as a consequence (less need for compensatory head forward posture to enable breathing). Hoping it will permanently resolve sleep apnea, chronic headache, neck pain, jaw clenching, non restorative sleep, anxiety. Keep the good stuff coming Dr. John, you are awesome!
Hi Wendy, I have been looking into an MAD, Vivos or Homeobloc device for sleep apnea. What did they tell you about tooth alignment after treatment? I am afraid of my teeth not being aligned for chewing if everything moves too much.
Yes. Breastfeeding is so important for jaw and facial muscle development!
In “Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox”, Kate Rheaume-Bleue shows (based on Weston Price’s work and many studies) that the modern diet being low in K2 from not eating organ meats and other sources, leads to incomplete development of the facial bones in the womb. There just aren’t the resources to complete what the blueprint calls for. If we eat a proper, natural diet, this doesn’t happen. My mother and I both have what she calls the symptoms of prenatal K2 deficiency. Narrow faces, crowded teeth, etc.
I have seen a reversal of cardiac symptoms since I started taking the supplement that Price recommends to make up for dietary insufficiencies of K2 and a proper balancing of fat soluble vitamins. I never would have said I was night blind, but after just a few days of taking it, I could see way better in dim light.
As to structural stuff, we need to educate women so their children can be better off. My mother bottle fed me, which as others mentioned, is another issue, but you need to realize this starts in the womb and is not really an adaptation evolutionarily, but an insufficiency of diet. My poor Mom had a horrible diet. And that is correctable. We need to emphasize prevention. And if your face is like mine, put the money into reversing cardiac problems, as that is a major cause of death in our culture. Read the book. It was life-changing for me. And visit Weston Price’s website. He’s dead now, but his organization is a good resource.
I am so grateful to Dr. John for this website. It has been an invaluable resource for me for improving my health.
Any metal on or inside the body, no good. Two different metals in the mouth, plus saliva and you have live battery in the mouth, witch voltage is much greater then brain needs. And it is neutralizing antioxidants when eating. Accordingly to school doctors, body communicates with chemicals. But for chemicals to be read and produced, you need electricity. Warp speed thoughts and ideas aren’t given with chemicals. Only emotions?
Watching the online news about presidential candidates, I remember something:
20 years ago, I listened to one very old women from east Europe, watching the US TV and asking why so many Americans have thin upper lips? Much thiner then lower lip.
He he. She said afterward this: SELFISHNESS. I know now, that this face trait is differently explained here in USA and GB.
1. Stiff upper lip
This is such a clichéd expression that it is difficult to imagine doing anything else with a stiff upper lip apart from keeping it. If you try to hold your upper lip stiff your facial expression will appear aloof and unsmiling, betraying little of any feeling you might be experiencing. That demeanour is the source of ‘keep a stiff upper lip’. The phrase is similar to bitte the Bullet. It has become symbolic of the British, and particularly of the products of the English public school system during the age of the British Empire. In those schools the ‘play up and play the game’ ethos was inculcated into the boys who went on to rule the Empire. That ‘do your duty and show no emotion’ attitude was expressed in Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
2. Thin upper lips
Those with thin upper lips but a normal-sized lower lip are people with great leadership qualities. They seem to be always charged up, positive and have fire running through their veins because they are so energetic and vibrant, like superstar Reese Witherspoon.
* These people are great at convincing others. They are able to hold their ground on issues that are so dear to them.
* Though usually successful in their career, people with thin upper lips may find romance a bit challenging.
Are both Biden and Trump getting wider jaws, but thinner upper lips?
When I was a teenager, a dentist did x-rays on my teeth and said that my wisdom teeth were lying sideways in my mouth and that they were right near a nerve. He emphasized that those teeth needed to come out surgically. They didn’t hurt, so my family chose not to pay to have them taken out. I’ve had other dentists throughout my life say something similar and that the teeth need to come out. I’m 56 years old, now, the teeth are still there, and they haven’t bothered me a day in my life. They want money, plain and simple. They are willing to torture people, risk infection, plus a host of other potential problems so that they can make money. I’ll likely die with these teeth in my head. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I am interested in ALF but do not see any providers in the Boulder/Denver area. Do you know of any?
I went to a biologic dentist locally who wanted to fit me for a Day Night Appliance. DNA. I was skeptical because I could only find one source of information on it and my regular dentist had never heard of such a thing. Since I did not want to get suckered into something, I passed. But it was supposed to cure TMJ and my constant headaches. Thank you for this information. I might reconsider.
I haven’t got lower canines, completely missing roots!! Which luckily no one can see. I have a narrow face and 2 (not badly) crooked upper canines. Have wisdom teeth who grew without pain. I was thinking of getting my crooked canines straightened but I’ve read this often leads to gum recession. So maybe I stay the way I’ve always been considering I have no health issues and I’m afraid that changing anything in my mouth would trigger some issues.
I think our physical constitution is mainly inherited, even if I seriously believe that our health starts in our mother’s womb, and who knows, even in our grandmothers’ as us women were in our mother’s womb as one of the eggs already at the time she was in her mother’s!
Anyway.. My dad has his wisdom teeth (and other molars) pulled out many years ago and since then his other teeth have moved and there’s space now between them. Other thing, my sister has brestfed her first for at least 9 months and he has now bite problems and that was what my sister had when she was little before it was corrected.
This is just my experience.
I meant to say I have no lower incisives (instead of canines).
Should mention a mobile app for mewing http://mewing.app/
A huge help for anyone who wants to start mewing