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
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 RecommendAyurvedic Nose Breathing for Stress + Immunity
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!