How kids get straight teeth
Among a lot of great lectures at the Ancestral Health Symposium, there is one I have been meaning to write about for a long time now. I found it fascinating.
Why do so many Westeners develop crooked teeth? Bad genes is a common explanation. But is it true?
A new problem
According to the dentist and the orthodontist lecturing, today about 95 percent of the population has some form of malocclusion, meaning more or less crooked teeth and/or overbites and such. Many of these problems are corrected using braces while growing.
Amazingly, looking at skeletal remains of our ancestors only 5 percent of them had similar problems. And looking at wild animals we see the same scarcity of similar problems. Lions don’t need braces.
From a “natural” rate of 5 percent, all the way to 95 percent bad bites! What happened?
Something in our modern diet and/or lifestyle makes our jaws grow unappropriately. What? We don’t know for sure.
One speculative answer is an excess of refined carbs. This can increase insulin and IGF-1 to abnormal levels. These are growth factors and when they are too high it can disturb normal growth.
A second possible reason is not eating food that we need to chew hard. Only eating soft (fast) food is not normal for humans, and may stop the teeth and jaws from developing normally.
Another thing that may contribute is substituting formula for breastfeeding!
The foundation for the problem in crooked teeth is that the palate is not wide enough, not big enough for fitting all the teeth in it. Thus the teeth become crowded and crooked (above, left).
Breastfeeding apparently has a widening effect on the palate. At least according to the dentist lecturing. Potentially a lot of breastfeeding could thus give better chances for straight teeth (above, right).
Listening to this lecture a few months ago made me very anxious to give my new baby girl the best start in life, even when it comes to her teeth.
I’m happy to report that Klara is breastfeeding as much as she wants. And her palate? Looks very wide to me.
So far so good.
What do you think?
What do you think about the theories above?
Here is the lecture (unfortunately the quality of the recording is god-awful)
Interestingly, if you read entry about Weston Price in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weston_Price) looks like he got heavily criticized by some scientist in his time... so I guess there is nothing new under the Sun... ;)
Doc, you wife is doing a sterling job in breastfeeding your little daughter, glad to hear everything is going well. Another great book is Garbrielle Palmer's book "The Politics of Breastfeeding: When Breasts are Bad for Business". I was reading that myself while b/feeding my little one, and it really opened my eyes how (food) industry is maneuvering people's behavior... and mostly for their benefit not ours. That book was the wake-up call I needed to start looking for information myself and not believing everything I read from the papers.
Lastly, thanks for the great blog :)
Not everybody CAN breastfeed--think of adoptive parents, and birth moms with medical issues that interfere with milk supply.
I had some medical issues that prevented successful breastfeeding (I tried very hard and was devastated both times that I could not breastfeed). So both my children were bottlefed. One child got the broad palate and perfect alignment of her father, one child inherited my very narrow, highly arched palate.
I don't think most people eat liver regularly nor do they consume sufficient traditional fats and making bone marrow stock for soups/stews isn't a part of most households weekly cooking neither do we spend sufficient time soaking up the sunshine outdoors wearing little if any clothing.
Hollis and Wagner have done the work showing how much vitamin D3 daily is required at latitude 32n to ensure human milk is a vit d3 replete food for human babies BUT WHO TAKES ANY NOTICE?
I also think
The Natural Age of Weaning is probably older/longer than many people are willing/able to provide.
I was breastfed exclusively and I had to wear braces for 4 years. My palate was plenty wide, it was just that my teeth were ENORMOUS. My brothers had much fewer problems even though they were alternately breast/bottle fed. They have smaller teeth than I do.
Besides which, in affluent cultures breastfeeding is correlated with maternal education, which is correlated with nutrition.
I had four teeth removed and still my palate isn't really big enough.
I think the Universal Standard Diet is probably to blame, and not just refined carbs, but also dairy.
(When you mentioned IGF-1, I immediately thought of Pedro Bastos' AHS talk.)
I hope you're not biased toward blaming carbs and leaving dairy in the dark :)
It's a real eye opener - he was a dentist who went around different indigenous populations throughout the world (back in the 1930's), to study rates of dental carries (cavities) and "deformities" as he called them such as overbites, overcrowding of the teeth etc.
He would take measurements of children and adults in their indigenous settings and then also take measurements from the people that had left their tribes to become more westernized (so were eating less whole foods and more refined carbs and canned foods).
His findings were very enlightening!
@ nil - just wondering what the problem with dairy is, and why you think this would be a contributing factor?
I know that my grandparents and my parents and their siblings had very little refined carbohydrates in their diet. My grandparents om my fathers side has about 125 decendants, and i cant recall any of them having bracers. Me and my siblings have never pulled teeths or used bracers and we all have somewhat broad faces with room for every teeth.
I think its possible to say that If youre teeth are to crowded, its your parents and grandparents diet that caused it.
Jennifer, your early death argument has been made many times before however we do find infant skulls (as indeed infant mortality was high) but you would expect to fine a spread of different types of malocclusion if this was so. However you don't, they ALL (less 5% disease, syndrome and trauma) have perfect sets of teeth. For which you must ask what is perfect since today most people have a space between upper tooth number 6 (left to right) of about 30-35mm, it was over 50 for most ancient humans!!! Are we now normal?
Please feel free to make comments on Y Crooked Teeth, my facebook page. I am campaigning for a debate on the cause of crooked teeth, the truth must out and it aint going to happen without some pressure,
I think I can confidently pinpoint my following the food pyramid in our diet as the culprit here. I kept us all on a fairly low-fat diet and used meat primarily as a condiment with grain-based meals. The boys don't drink much in the way of cow's milk, and I only kept fat-free in the house anyway. Fat free everything, pretty much.
I have since learned better, and have radically changed our diets. I personally have essentially perfect teeth. I grew up the 70's in an area where my parents purchased a whole pastured cow from a farmer friend every year, and grew most of our vegetables. So I grew with high animal fats with very low incidence of pesticide or hormone use.
My parents thought my low-fat thing was crazy, though not because of the kids, just in general. Once again, they were right.
Additionally, insulin itself will cause other changes such as increased fat tissue mass. So we'll end up shorter and fatter with crooked teeth.
This is how I see it. It makes sense to me.
I'm not sure about "shorter" because we've all been getting about an inch taller on average in the last decades.
Anyway, I doubt that we have really gotten taller. We're getting more and more osteoporosis. This affects the spine, which makes us shorter as we grow older. Also, our average BMI has increased, which suggests that we've been getting fatter, or shorter, or both.
I'd say the food we eat is too anabolic, too growth stimulating (via insulin and IGF-1). It's making us grow. Kid's grow taller, adults grow fatter, older people grow cancer.
There may also have been more frequent episodes of starvation, bad harvests etc. back then.
No, we are not growing taller today because our diet is more anabolic. Instead, we are growing taller today because we do things that counter the catabolic effects of our diet.
Why cooking counts Study finds an increase in energy from meat, suggesting key role in evolution
similarly we forget the impact of mitochondrial dysfunction and the way our exposure to bright light during the day, subdued light at night and total darkness while we are asleep affects melatonin secretion. Most lab rats/mice suffer disruption of their natural circadian rhythm as do most modern humans. A power cut yesterday afternoon that lasted through the night brought home to me that using FLUX is not the same as using only candles during the evening and the total absence of even low level of street lighting also made a difference to sleep quality and duration.
Not only were the diets of our early ancestors less inflammatory but also their lifestyles were in tune with natural circadian rhythm which would impact both on the nature of their gut bacteria and Circadian rhythms, sleep, and metabolism In the same way we are ignoring the role of bright sunlight exposure on vitamin D and chronobiology we also forget the role of melatonin secretion in protection mitochondrial function. There is 400x the secretion of melatonin in the digestive system than from the pineal gland but it's role is totally ignored by most nutrition researcher & bloggers.
As my co-presenter Mike Mew stated earlier, great to see that our 2011 AHS lecture has generated such chatter! Just to clarify one major point, the term "breastfeeding" for the purpose of the talk was clearly defined as "Ancestral-Type" Breastfeeding (A-TB...i.e., 'at-will' exclusive suckling for at least 6-8 months and continued suckling during weaning into at least the 3rd year of childhood...as did our paleo/pre-paleo ancestors, and as do extant H-G foragers....references upon request)..); A-TB is only one of two key component of an "ancestral-type" Infant and Early Childhood Feeding (IECF) regimen . The other key component to the "ancestral-type" IECF regimen is the gradual weaning period... again, into at least the 3rd year of life and to only firm-textured/fibrous and minimally-processed Paleo-type complementary foods. Although not at all easy in our Westernized society, if an ancestral (paleo)-type IECF regimen can be adhered to, and also followed up by a committment to eating unprocessed and firm-textured paleo-type foods, according to my hypothesis, most would reach adolescence/young adulthood as good nose-breathers with fairly straight teeth, well-postured tongues and well-formed jaws....and attractive forward faces. This is the foundation for the hypothesis that I will be testing on wild (bred/fed) vs. captive (bre/fed) chimpanzee skulls in MM's "Oz" (i.e., the Field Museum of Natural History in ChicagOZ)...and will be applying for NSF grant support...wish me luck please!
This is interesting, Doc, as we see the reverse in the USA. Americans appear to be actively shrinking in size, and have done so mostly over the last 30 years apparently:
"New research shows that Americans are coming up short, but not in terms of money or lifestyle. Our growing problem is with our height.
The study, conducted by the University of Munich and Princeton University, found that the United States had the shortest population in the industrialized world, and the reason may have to do with the way people live.
America's first president, George Washington, stood a commanding 6-foot-2. In Washington's day, our country's residents were the tallest in the world.
"It's well known that the Americans held the title for 200 years," said University of Munich professor John Komlos. "Ever since the colonial times, the Americans were the tallest."
In Denmark, men average 6 feet in height, a couple of inches taller than the [now] American male average of 5-foot-10.
Overeating can cause kids to produce too many growth hormones too early, which halts growth at a younger age. "
And what are Americans overeating? Refined carbs & sugar.
Please give me an answer at firstname.lastname@example.org or here.
I expect a better officIal sound/slide version will be posted soon but in the meantime this may be helpful.
As for 'not everyone can breastfeed, don't make the mothers feel guilty' lobby. According to Norwegian figures 98% of women are able to breastfeed, with the right help and support. There are factors which interfere with breastfeeding, maternal/infant separation and illness, some medications (although virtually all are safe to take whilst breastfeeding, if you do the research via Hales or The BNF) and even adoptive mothers can breastfeed, again, if they have the right info, help and support. Only 2% of women actually fail to lactate, the high numbers of mothers who don't breastfeed are mainly due to bad advice, poor support and inaccurate and inadequate information.