Holistic Alternatives to Dental Braces

From a review of the evidence, people just didn’t have crooked teeth until around the Industrial Revolution. Genetics has have a role, but the key is lifestyle and diet.

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As far as the link between food and dental health goes, conventional wisdom tells us that sugar causes cavities and that’s the extent of the connection. But food is much more connected to oral health than that.

Dr. Steven Lin for example explains in his book The Dental Diet how food is directly related to dental issues. Dr. Weston A. Price began the research in the 1930s and others have come to the same conclusions: Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2 are essential for proper jaw and facial development. And healthy fats are essential for acquiring and absorbing these vitamins

Unfortunately, modern diets are especially poor in these important nutrients, resulting in malformed jaws, snoring, and crooked teeth.

How Fat-Soluble Vitamins Make Teeth Straight (or Not)

Dr. Price found that communities that stuck to their traditional diets (which were as much as 20 times higher in fat-soluble vitamins than the standard Western diet today) had beautiful, straight teeth. These traditional cultures also rarely used toothbrushes or toothpaste either.

These vitamins work together and without them, the jaw can’t form properly. If the jaw and mouth are too small for all of the teeth to come in properly, they can become crowded and crooked.

 Crooked Teeth in Childhood

It’s been thought that kids either get crooked teeth or they don’t, and you won’t know until they get their adult teeth. Dr. Lin suggests that there are signs that parents can look out for that may cause crooked teeth as early as infanthood. The earlier we spot an issue the better chance of correcting it. Here’s what to look out for:

Tongue ties – The tongue should sit at top of the palate and there should be no frenulum visible. To check for a tongue tie open the mouth and try to touch the tip of the tongue to just behind the upper teeth. If the tougue can be touched it, he may have a tongue tie. However, being able to touch doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no tongue tie, but it’s a good place to start.

Thin, high palate – Children  should have a flat U-shaped palate (not V-shaped or high). Check by tipping their head back and looking at the palate. Chewing hard fibrous vegetables and firm nuts like almonds or a liquorice stick can help build a better palate shape.

Mouth breathing – The child should be able to breathe through their nose comfortably. If the child breathes through his or her mouth, their jaw growth may be stunted. Just getting them to breathe through the nose can help reform the jaw. Mouth breathing is also not ideal because the nasal passages prepare air for the lungs by moistening and warming the air. Nitric oxide is synthesized in the nasal passages which helps distribute oxygen. Nitric oxide also plays a role in platelet function, immunity, the nervous system, homeostasis, and the regulation of mitochondrial function.

Holistic techniques

Have the child place the tongue at the roof of the mouth with lips closed. This opens airways, helps form the arch properly, and activates the neuromuscular pathways that train the airway to stay open during sleep.

Breastfeeding is super important toward healthy jaw and teeth. The act of removing milk from the breast helps form the arch of the palate. Breastfeeding supports proper tongue posture as well. In fact, breastfeeding trouble is one of the most common ways of discovering a tongue posture issue (tongue tie). Breastmilk also contains live enzymes and probiotics that help seal the digestive tract and build the immune system.

Consume plenty of healthy fat-soluble vitamins along with healthy fat, especially from plants, like flax seeds, walnuts, avocados, coconut, chia seeds, etc.  Fermented foods is good too.  Some wild clean fish and organic eggs can be an option, provided the eater takes in lots of fiber to eliminate the excessive LDL cholesterol from these foods.

Snoring and teeth clenching/grinding – Grinding teeth is a signal from the brain that the airway is closing. No child should snore. It’s a sign that their airway is not clear. If your child grinds his teeth or snores, try using a saline spray before bed.

Throat check – You want to be able to see all the way back to the back of the throat when your child opens his mouth. If the tongue is in the way or tonsils are inflamed, that’s a sign that the airway is impeded.

 Tentative Conclusion

The earlier signs of malfunctioning or malformed jaw are seen, the easier it is to correct. Paying attention to how a child breathes at night or their usual facial posture can give us important clues. I would also get help from an ear, nose, throat (ENT) doctor, chiropractor, osteopath, holistic dentist, or craniosacral therapist if needed.

Using Vivos to optimize children’s palates while they sleep can be useful as an alternative to braces. This device is only worn at night and helps the maxilla expand naturally.

Conventional wisdom says that the upper palate of the mouth fuses in adulthood and can’t be easily changed. However, the evidence shows that there are actually stem cells in the palate, so it can expand. For adults and teens it may take longer to see changes (6 months to 2 years) but the recommendations above can help adults and teens gain straighter teeth, too, not to mention better health overall. Diet and mastication are key.

 

Sources:

  1. American Dental Association. (n.d.). Breastfeeding: 6 things nursing moms should know about dental health. Retrieved from https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/breastfeeding
  2. Gondivkar, S., Gadbail, A., Gondivkar, R., Sarode, S., Sarode, G., Patil, S., & Awan, K. (2018, October 04). Nutrition and oral health. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0011502918301287?via=ihub
  3. Ikävalko, T., Närhi, M., Eloranta, A., Lintu, N., Myllykangas, R., Vierola, A., . . . Pahkala, R. (2018, May 25). Predictors of sleep disordered breathing in children: The PANIC study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29016983
  4. Lin, S. (2018, September 21). Dental exam for children that you can easily perform from home. Retrieved from https://www.drstevenlin.com/dental-exam-children/
  5. Lin, S. (2019). Dental diet: The surprising link between your teeth, real food, and life-changing natural health. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House.
  6. Najeeb, S., Zafar, M. S., Khurshid, Z., Zohaib, S., & Almas, K. (2016, August 30). The Role of nutrition in periodontal health: an update. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5037517/
  7. Varela-López, A., Giampieri, F., Bullón, P., Battino, M., & Quiles, J. L. (2016, September 07). A systematic review on the implication of minerals in the onset, severity and treatment of periodontal disease. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27617985