What Really Causes Crooked Teeth?

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist January 5, 2012

Scientists have suggested several different theories over the decades as to what causes crooked teeth in humans. When my Dad started medical school in the late 1940′s, he was taught that racial mixing (Italians marrying Irish for example) was the cause of crooked teeth. Malocclusions had just started to reach epidemic proportions in children at that time.

Of course, this theory of racial mixing causing crooked teeth which was incidentally presented as fact to the wide eyed medical students of the time is completely ridiculous and has long since been disproven.

Other theories include thumb sucking and consuming soft foods which are suppositions subscribed to by many orthodontists.   The soft food theory suggests that because humans don’t exercise their jaw muscles enough that our jaws have become weak and narrowed over time.

One orthodontist once told me (while I struggled to keep a straight face) that wisdom teeth were being genetically “selected out” of the gene pool because they are no longer needed because of the different foods that humans now eat compared with ancestral societies.

Now comes a variation of the “soft food causes crooked teeth” theory which was recently described in a study published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This new theory states that the move of humans from primarily hunter-gatherers to farmers around 10,000 years ago put us on the inevitable road to the orthodontist’s chair.

To test this hypothesis, Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel, an anthropologist at the University of Kent in the UK, examined the skull and jaw shapes of ancient skeletons housed in museums that originated from Africa, Australia, Europe, and North/South America.  Six of the populations lived by farming and five were hunter-gatherers.

A significant correlation existed between how a population obtained its food and the shape of the jaw. Hunter-gatherers had narrower and more jutting lower jaws whereas those of the agriculturalists were shorter and wider.

The shape of the upper jaw and palate also varied somewhat between the farmers and hunter-gatherers.

Von Cramon-Taubadel concludes by suggesting that the transition to farming and an increase in food processing both of which led to consumption of softer foods resulted in a shorter and weaker human jaw.   Jaw shortening leads to greater crowding of the teeth.

To lend support to her theory, von Cramon-Taubadel refers to preliminary studies of animals which show that those that are raised on softer more processed foods develop smaller jaws than those raised on fresh, unprocessed diets.

Katerina Harvati, an anthropologist at the University of Tubingen in Germany says that this recent paper by von Cramon-Taubadel is a “well thought out piece of research and an important contribution” to understanding how the way humans live affects their body shape.

She goes on to say, “These findings confirm long-held ideas that the dietary shift to softer foods was an important influence affecting facial and dental morphology.”

The Soft Food Theory Ignores Contradictory Evidence

Strong contradictory evidence to the soft food theory as a reason for crooked teeth is presented in Dr. Weston A. Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.  How such convincing evidence was completely ignored as part of this supposedly “well thought out piece of research” is rather surprising and I would think, downright embarrassing for the author.

While hunter-gatherers certainly had strong jaws which allowed them to consume hard foods, the strength did not come from greater exercising of the jaw muscles!   As suggested by Sally Fallon Morell, President of the Weston A. Price Foundation, such a theory makes the critical mistake of confusing muscle with bone.

A narrowed jaw and palate, for example, can be identified in babies at birth long before they have chewed anything!

Dr. Price also correctly pointed out that when the jaw and palate are narrowed, other parts of the skeleton are correspondingly narrowed as well such as the pelvic opening which causes greater difficulty in childbirth and the chest cavity which crowds the vital organs.

The Swiss farmers studied by Dr. Price subsisted on very soft foods and yet had beautifully broad palates with perfectly straight teeth.   Moreover, the South Sea Islanders photographed by Dr. Price with perfectly straight teeth consumed primarily seafood and poi, both soft foods with poi, in particular, a very soft and sticky staple carbohydrate in their diet.

The Truth About Crooked Teeth

Von Cramon-Taubadel did get one aspect of her paper correct.  The rise of food processing did indeed contribute to the modern epidemic of crooked teeth, but not because such foods are softer than unprocessed foods.

Rather, processed and industrialized foods are devoid of the critical nutrients necessary to produce a broad and sturdy jaw with correspondingly straight teeth.

Dr. Price’s research compellingly argues that a lack of jaw development and crooked teeth is entirely nutritional in origin such as attempting to build a wide bridge with substandard materials.

Without essential nutrients in the form of minerals and the fat soluble activators A, D, and K2 which were abundant in primitive diets, the jaw and palate cannot form with enough strength to support a broad facial structure.  Hence, narrowing of the face and crooked teeth are the result no matter how hard the food that is chewed.

Anthropologists of all people should realize that chewing rocks will not produce a broad jaw and straight (albeit broken) teeth!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Sources

 Blame Your Crooked Teeth on Early Farmers, Wired

The Right Price, The Weston A. Price Foundation

Picture Credit

More Information on Nutrition and Oral Health

How I Healed My Child’s Cavity

Toddler’s Severe Tooth Decay Halted in 5 Days

Whiten Your Teeth Without Dangerous Chemicals

Resolving Periodontal Problems with Bone Broth

Coconut Oil Stops Strep Bacteria from Damaging Tooth Enamel

What is the True Cause of Crooked Teeth?

10 Signs Your Dentist is Truly Holistic

Avoiding Root Canals with Diet Alone

Could the Cause of Your Illness Be Right Under Your Nose?

Most Wisdom Tooth Extractions Totally Unnecessary

 

Comments (179)

  1. I grew up with a very bad orthodontic problem due to having a very tiny mouth. I also developed a receding jawline and chin as I grew. I have a very narrow, high arched palate. My mother could not afford orthodontics, so I had braces as an adult, followed by surgery to widen my palate and bring my jaw forward. I had teeth removed as well. I have straight teeth now, but not a good smile, because my mouth is so tiny. My mother had a small mouth though not quite as small as mine, but had very small teeth, so her teeth were naturally straight. My father had big teeth which I seem to have any inherited, but a big mouth with enough room for them. So, I do think there is something to the genetic mixing thing. I have an otherwise large, wide face, not a thin face. I also do not have a narrow pelvis or chest, so I don’t buy the narrowing theory for the entire body.

    Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist
      Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist June 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      No as the palate is formed in the womb and in early childhood. Once the teeth come in crooked, expansion of the palate and/or braces are necessary to straighten them.

      Reply
      • Close but no cigar, I would say. I’ve read extensively about tongue and lip ties recently due to the realization that I, my husband, and more importantly, my two daughters, have them to one degree or another. My current working theory based on the (internet) research I’ve done is that tied tongue leads to improper oral posture, no tongue pressing on palate to expand and widen it (the tongue is supposed to rest behind that ridge in your mouth, filling your palate, with your jaw slightly open and your lips lightly touching. Who knew?), hence narrow palates, long faces, and crooked teeth. Where the tongue ends up mostly determines the type of crookedness. Since most orthodontics don’t concentrate on the muscles involve, those treatments can often reverse. I had a palate expansion, but I wasn’t trained to adjust my tongue’s resting position, so it didn’t “stick.” Lip ties can sometimes encourage the mouth to remain open, encouraging mouth breathing and decay. Lack of proper nutrients in utero such as real folate as found in properly prepared beans and liver lead to midline defects like tongue and lip ties. Read up on oral myofunctional therapy and orthotropics. That’s been my reading material this week, and being a long-time reader of your blog, I’m sure you’ll find it all very interesting. (Oh, the ties my daughters had made breastfeeding absolutely torturous. tie in utero leads to an infant with a narrow, high palate that feeds poorly and often painfully.)

        Reply
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  3. Angela Stewart Abulela via Facebook February 21, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Those who doubt this really should find a copy of Price’s book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”. He proved beyond doubt that dental crowding is Not genetic. It can be entirely predicted based on parental nutrition particularly maternal diet during pregnancy, regardless of the parents bone structure. Also, crowding and bone structure tend to be worse with younger children within families unless diet is improved. This is because earlier children use up much of the mother’s stores, leaving less for subsequent babies to use if the mother’s diet, or the spacing between children, is not adequate to rebuild her nutritional reserves. It is also worth mentioning that by processed foods, they mean refined flour products, vegetable oils, sugar, and canned goods, not necessarily tv dinners and hot dogs. All the people he studied were eating home cooked meals, it was the quality of the ingredients that was to blame.

    Reply
  4. Totally agree with the breastfeeding theory. If you have kids who are breastfed only for a few months and others breastfed for several years (like myself), you don’t need science to see for yourself that breastfeeding optimally supports jaw development and facial muscles.

    Reply
  5. Noemi Romano via Facebook February 21, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Since when is crooked teeth a sickness or condition that needs to he remedied is the real question. Picket straight teeth isn’t a necessity or a sign of health.

    Reply
  6. Sophia Castrillo Ancer via Facebook February 21, 2014 at 7:45 am

    I agree with genetics. Both sides of my family have only been in the US for 2 generations; both sets of my grandparents cook their own food 95% of the time and they come from agricultural backgrounds. I was breastfed for two years and never had a pacifier. My teeth are large relative to my jaw and I had some crowding, but only after my permanent teeth came in; i am just small framed. I had no problem with delivering my kids though. Both my kids have been/are breastfed and my oldest has straight teeth with gaps and a larger frame with straight teeth. My youngest has very large teeth and a very small frame like me; she has crowding at the bottom, has never had a pacifier, and doesn’t eat processed foods. I’m not sure how any factors were accounted for/controlled in this study.

    Reply
  7. Judy Knowlton via Facebook February 21, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Genetics. Look at the difference in some races, some have terrible teeth while others have beautiful, strong teeth regardless of socioeconomic class

    Reply
  8. DanielandJumara English via Facebook February 21, 2014 at 6:50 am

    I personally believe too many people jump the gun and put braces on kids. Sometimes just waiting a few years makes a huge difference.

    Reply
  9. Well,the dentist told me,my daughters teeth would come in crooked and she missing 4 teeth.Been giving her homeopathic minerals,and after over 1 year of heer missing teeth,the 2 next to her 2 front teeth,they finally came in.Not sure this will help with them being crooked.They need pushed in.I had problems with mine,sticking out.

    Reply
  10. Amy Dewire via Facebook February 21, 2014 at 5:07 am

    Don’t forget the impact of tongue tie, a common birth defect which traditional societies would have been able to diagnose and correct at birth. These days few people know what it looks like and it can be hard to find a doctor or dentist to treat your child. Tongue tie effects the palate in a major way, my children are a good example. All three are tongue tied but it was only my last child whose tie was revised in infancy. His palate is noticeably wider as a toddler than my older two children’s. He has also had the benefit of a better diet but having the tie fixed has clearly made a big difference. I’ve even gotten comments on “where did he get his broad face?” as both my husband and I have dental crowding (and I have a posterior tie myself).

    Reply
  11. This is very interesting to me! My two sisters had horribly crooked teeth, and my mom used pacifiers and they sucked their thumbs. For myself, my mom didn’t give me a pacifier due to germ concerns, and I have straight teeth and I won’t ever need braces
    But also I was born without wisdom teeth and my two siblings were born with them.
    Very interesting read

    Reply
  12. Christine Davie via Facebook February 21, 2014 at 2:39 am

    Jaime Agree… Perhaps 100 years ago we didn’t have the means or vanity to require perfect looking teeth …

    Reply
  13. Natalie Loranger Hewitt via Facebook February 21, 2014 at 12:50 am

    Yeah, I would say perhaps nutrition and breathing and thumb sucking can have some effect, but genetics play a huge role too. I’m curious as to what may have caused the observed shift in genetics.

    Reply
  14. Rachel Schiller via Facebook February 21, 2014 at 12:37 am

    2 of my children have the tiny mouth of DH and my giant teeth. No amount of prenatal nutrition would have helped them with crooked teeth since it boiled down to genetics. DS #1 start phase 1 of braces next week.

    Reply
  15. Hilary Reynolds via Facebook February 20, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    I was a vegetarian with my first child and she has the worst teeth. Dental Caries as a baby and toddler and now..braces forever. The other two children are fine so far. I ate a more traditional diet with the last two.

    Reply
  16. My dad’s family is a blend of Cherokee with English/Scottish. They have beautiful teeth and rarely deal with cavities/fillings. My dad just turn 93 this week and has his own teeth and no fillings. He also just got his driver’s license renewed. :-) His five kids also have nice teeth and little trouble with cavities. The first two (including me) were bottle fed (yuck) but the other three were nursed. Made no difference in our teeth. I was the one thumb sucker in the family and my teeth are straight and perfect. My oldest son also was a thumb sucker and his teeth are beautiful. Our youngest son has six kids and one of them sucks his thumb. He’s 6 years old and still doing it and he has some of the best teeth in the family. I don’t think thumb sucking has anything to do with your teeth. I think if they are going to come in crooked, they are going to do it anyway. My dentist says he loves working in my mouth (no fillings at 60 years old). The grandkids on the whole also have the nice teeth. Living in different parts of the country, eating different things. It seems to have more to do with genetics with us than anything else. Mixing the Cherokee (three lines behind my dad) with the other races did us nothing but good. My mom is mainly English background and she has had trouble with her teeth (and bones) since she was young. She eats the same things as my dad (she’s 80). His teeth are good, her’s aren’t.

    Reply
  17. Kate Sharp via Facebook February 20, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    I know that my teeth were pretty straight and I had braces on less than 8 months (I am sure the ortho just wanted money). But my wisdom teeth were twice the size of my molars! They had to be cracked under the gum line and extracted. When they started to come in I cried in horrific pain! Not sure how my nutrition could have helped? I was breast fed over a year as a babe

    Reply
  18. Anna Berthelius Mallik via Facebook February 20, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    I’m currently working with Dr. William Hang from Face Focused to correct bad orthodontic work form when I was a teenager. His website has a TON of information and he does things differently than the standard orthodontic treatment that gives you straight teeth but ruins your face in the process. He does not believe in extractions like the conventional orthodontists. http://www.facefocused.com

    Reply
  19. I do not think braces are good when they retract the teeth. I did that before I knew with my son and he has had TMJ problems and headaches. I took him to Dr Hang and he moved the teeth forward because the previous ortho had prevented the maxilla growth and so he did not grow wide arches and started to have the long face syndrome. Now is jaws are forward so his profile looks good. Best to do orthotropics BEFORE their growth is done so the the teeth and bone can be guided to grow a beautiful face which is every child.

    Reply
  20. Becky Silebi via Facebook February 20, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    I think breastfeeding really helps too. I was only able to breastfed my first child for 5-6 months. My others were breastfed until about 18 months. My oldest has crooked teeth and some issues. My other two are very straight and full smiles. My mother breastfed me until I was over 2 years old. I have really straight teeth and most people assume that I had braces as a child. I thank my mom for giving me such a nutritious start early on.

    Reply
  21. Have you heard of the DNA appliance? In a true spirit of WAP principle help expand the palette and the jaw bones. With WAP nutrition and the DNA appliance there is true hope even for adult. I introduced it to my holistic dentist and he decided to get the training. So, my family will be the first on his patient list to get the appliance. He’s going to be ready in the spring for treatment. https://dnaappliance.com/index.html#.UwbQy5U_YtE

    Reply
  22. Julie Newmeyer via Facebook February 20, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    The little girl I babysit sucks her thumb and I tell her how bad it is and you can see the pallet just change and her teeth are messed up. The parents won’t do anything about it!

    Reply
  23. Dr Price also talked about nasal breathing which is just as important as nutrition. The mouth hanging open is cause for the tongue to be lower in the mouth and not on the spot therefore making the heavy tongue lay low in the mouth instead of in the roof of the mouth. Very important to the breathing and the health as far as sleep and heart and diabetes and other illnesses.

    Reply
  24. The children I let suck their thumbs needed braces. The ones who did not have perfectly straight teeth. I wish I had known this 20 years ago! They ate the same food, so I don’t really know if it all due to a nutritional deficiency (unless they didn’t process the vitamins in the same way).

    Reply
  25. Julie Newmeyer via Facebook February 20, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    I’m making my kids have braces!!!!
    I ate healthy and I had such a narrow jaw! My jaw was expanded twice when I was 8 & 12! I’m so happy I had braces!!!
    I was a healthy eater and didn’t suck my thumb, but had a very small jaw! But I’ve never had a cavity:) so I’m happy that my healthy eating habits helps that

    Reply
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  27. I have 4 kids. They were all breast fed for their first year and ate healthy home cooked food based on the wisdom of the time which included wheat, vegetable oils and conventional dairy products. Three out of 4 ended up with perfectly straight teeth. Out of these three one sucked her thumb until she was 9 years old. After she stopped her teeth straightened themselves spontaneously. All four of my kids have no cavities thus far (aged 13-20). The oldest does not take particularly good care of his teeth either. The fourth child has needed considerable orthodontic treatment. Same diet as the others. I have a good set of teeth and never had any orthodontics. The kids’ father had lots of orthodontic treatment for the same issues as my fourth child. My conclusion: genetics have a lot to do with the shape of your mouth and jaw.

    Reply
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  29. My mom had crooked and overcrowded teeth before she saw the orthodontist in her late 30s who pulled out some of her teeth and put in braces. She made sure I didn’t get them by pulling out most of my baby teeth once they started moving. I hated it so much and didn’t understand back then why she was so persistent on doing this even when she showed me her teeth. Can anyone confirm if this practice really works or not? My teeth are straight so I never had to get braces.

    Reply
  30. This is fascinating stuff. Now that I’ve read this and thought about it- here is my own story/ proof. My daughter by age 6 showed crooked teeth. Several years ago (gradually while learning) we made many improvements to our nutrition. Cutting out all reduced fats, adding coconut oils and more grass fed butters and olive oil. Switching to raw dairy, ridding processed foods and eating a very nutrient dense diet. Making bone broths and adding probiotic drinks. Last year we noticed her teeth had become completely straight on her own! Despite both her parents having had braces…. This seemed impossible and we weren’t sure how it had happened, until now! Not to mention zero cavities despite denying the toxic suggested fluoride treatments… It is never too late! This story is proof, she is now 10 and no need for braces. Crazy awesome, thanks for your research and wisdom

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing your story!

      It gives me a lot of hope and I try to recover myself, my husband and my 2 daughters from a long line of bad health.

      Reply
  31. What a timely post! My first born just lost her first 2 teeth, and as I was looking yesterday at her first adult tooth just starting to poke up, I had this moment of panic. Knowing how important proper nutrition is to teeth, I suddenly felt like, “This is it. Have I done enough??We’ll see if the last 6 years of effort have been in vain, we’ll see if these teeth grow in straight.” All 3 of my girls (6, 5 and 3) have beautiful little baby teeth, but I can’t help but worry that they seem to be pretty snug in their little mouths. I probably eat and feed my family the most WAP-ish of everyone I know. And yet, there are people I know who hardly give nutrition a second thought, the kind of people who think that avocados are bad for you because they have so much fat in them, whose children have these nice round heads, broad faces, and wide palates. I can’t help but feel a little frustrated and bewildered by it. Doesn’t it seem like genetics has to be involved somewhat? Or maybe not genetics as much as, the affects of past generations on present ones. Like, sometimes I feel like, “What’s the use?? We’re the weirdos who feed our kids so carefully, but our kids still get sick, they still have crooked teeth…” but our hope is that the effort we are putting into feeding our kids right will not only help them to be healthier, but will build them up to be able to pass on stronger and better genes to the next generation. Like, the faces getting more narrow over the generations as the nutrition decilned, but the opposite. Can we start seeing the faces getting broader and healthier again, from one generation to the next, because of how we feed our children now?? Hm… I hope some of that will make some sense to someone. ;)

    Reply
  32. Breast feeding is always good. It also is the beginning of the swallow and using the tongue so the tongue position will develop well unlike bottles and sippy cup which lower the tongue position. I don’t think we are talking about anything they wrote about in the article haha I got off track anyway! Hard foods are not the answer to straight teeth. and really they talked more about bone growth which hard foods do not help either! Today we have mouth breathers which changes the picture in creating healthy mouths. I am researching and learning about baby led weaning. It is not hard food just letting the baby eat instead of spoon feeding.. interesting.

    Reply
  33. Krystle Spielman via Facebook October 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    What about the role of breastfeeding (especially “extended” or full-term breastfeeding)? Breastfeeding should have been mentioned in the article because it helps in 2 ways: 1) Best nutrition during infant and toddler years, and 2) Breastfeeding past 12 months actually helps develop the jaw properly so the teeth can come in straight. :D

    Reply
  34. This is so daunting. My first born is now 11 and has a very narrow palate and some crowding that is getting uncomfortable for her. There is no one in our area (or anywhere relatively close) other than mainstream orthodontists. I am confused and unsure what I can do to help my daughter.

    Reply
  35. Thank you Sarah. Great info. It corresponds to my own experience, I lost a tooth when pregnant with my first daughter, and was told it is common for women to ‘give’ one tooth per pregnancy. Then a few years later I met and married my husband and we moved to house on a property with an Axis deer problem. The short version is, my husband kept me well stocked in fresh Maui venison and I made stocks and bullion with the bones and we were able to conceive and birth an amazing little girl. My teeth stopped being sensitive and I didn’t lose one for this pregnancy. I have always craved butter and my dream of having fresh milk and butter is coming closer. Finding a nice jersey cow would be great!
    Thank you again. I love all the info you provide, it goes with what my instincts have always pushed towards.

    Reply
  36. Look up one of John Flutter’s videos. He asks a group who had ortho and who has bite problems, who has never had ortho and who has bit problems. Every single person who had ortho had some kind of oral problem. The ones who didn’t have ortho were fine. I would do the orofacial myofunctional therapy and or Buteyko Breathing if needed never would I do the traditional ortho or recommend it. Pushing teeth back into the head? Does that sound like it’s good for a growing child? Face -focused is where my now grown son is going to restore what the ortho did.

    Reply
  37. It’s never too late. Bone growth even in the teens and early adult. See an orofacial myolfuntional therapist. For the mouth breathing see the Buteyko Breathing practitioner. The mouth breathing is a huge cause of facial growth problems. As George Catlin says in his book written in 1870, the mouth was not made for breathing any more than the nose was made for eating bread.

    Reply
  38. Women can have good stores of A and D which permit the firstborn or perhaps even a second child to have a decent facial structure. Later children typically have more and more narrowed faces as these stores get depleted and don’t get replenished with traditional diet.

    Reply
  39. Fascinated by the mouth breathing issue. My son is a moth breather due to enlarged adenoids & tonsils. The ENT wants to remove both but I am reluctant to take out parts of his immune system. We think the cause of this enlargement is a dairy allergy (raw milk is illegal in my state) so we have removed that and have had some success with essential oils. His snoring and sleep apnea are almost totally gone but he still mouth breathes. He is only 2.5 years old, any suggestions? I’ve thought about the Buteyko breathing but there are no practitioners anywhere near us so I’m not sure when would be the right age to pursue that (and of course hoping as we stay dairy free that this may resolve itself). Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Reply
  40. Francesca Tropea, I’m wondering the same thing. I’m sure I ate like crap with both Aislinn & Kenneth’s pregnancies, but Aislinn got her dad’s wide facial structure, so her teeth are coming in beautifully. Poor diet when she was small plus lack of consistent brushing (my fault, I know) caused issues with her baby teeth, but her adult teeth are beautiful & dentist already said no braces necessary. Kenneth, unfortunately, got my smaller mouth & facial structure, so his teeth are all crowded and we know he will need braces. I never needed braces, but do have a bit of crowding. I am very curious as well.

    Reply
  41. Francesca Tropea via Facebook October 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Hmmmm, this isn’t anything that I haven’t read before, but I’m trying to see how accurate this is in my own life. I have excellent teeth- perfectly straight, white, no cavities…my husband, on the other hand has a long face, narrow palate, and somewhat extensive dental work. And yes, we were raised with different eating habits, so that would seem to ring true. However, our older 2 children both had beautiful baby teeth, but lots of crowding and issues with crookedness when the adult teeth came in. My 14 year old just got braces last month and had an expander when she was about 8. My 2nd child will likely need that too. Both have healthy teeth otherwise, which I attribute to our diet. My younger 3 children have much better spacing though and their adult teeth are coming in nicely…the only exception is the youngest, because he hasn’t yet lost a tooth as he is only 4. Anyway, I may not have eaten as well with the first 2, but I never really ate badly, and didn’t stray from eating the way I was raised, which produced my good teeth. So, where does genetics play in this? Why do my two children who look the most like my husband, also have his facial/mouth structure and the children who most look like me, have mine? Truly interested in all of this.

    Reply
  42. GENETICS! My oldest and youngest have their father’s jaw shape and teeth. Penty of room with no need for braces. My middle daughter is like me narrow jaw and pallete. We’re in our 2nd year of braces for her, nothing esle could possibly “fix” the malalignment in her mouth. And she did have to have a “spreader” in for two months to open up her upper pallete to allow for propper tooth alignment. My middle child is my healthiest eatter and I ate the healthiest while pregnant with her. Nothing in these studies matches up with our family or our extended families.

    Reply
  43. This explains my husband’s teeth being naturally straight with his mom always serving fresh food and my Paki friend whose mom never used processed food as well. Neither one of her brothers needed braces either. Then there is my Indian friend who needed a retainer but she grew up eating a diet of basically just beans, oil and rice. Not very healthy.

    Reply
  44. I am disappointed that this article didn’t mention the importance of extended breastfeeding in the development of straight teeth. Breastfeeding past 1 year is a huge factor that should not have been over looked.

    Reply
  45. Dawnielle Callaway Westerman via Facebook October 9, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I dont know….I had braces for 3 yrs and my face is fine. no doubt that diet is extremely important, but I would still do braces if needed. which will be I was a chronic thumb sucker and the 2 out of our 5 that were thumb suckers will defiantly need them

    Reply
  46. Something I noticed years ago, when looking at photos from the Civil War era was that no one (among those photographed) seemed to have crooked teeth, or even missing ones.

    At the time I attributed this to a higher rate of breastfeeding, but perhaps the diet was as much of a factor.

    Reply
  47. Gidget Blunt via Facebook October 9, 2012 at 8:31 am

    My oldest has great straight teeth. My youngest had an accident and lost one of his front teeth, so we are kind of forced into treatment for him.

    Reply
  48. My oldest of 8 has been the only one so far to need braces for crowding. Her teeth were a mirror of my older brother’s. My diet hasn’t changed much until the last 4 years and my body was in it’s best shape when she was born. So my experience really doesn’t match this assertion. In my two that are 18 months apart, the younger definitley has a narrower jaw, but straight teeth.

    Reply
  49. I’d like to say that some of these comments scare me. Having a broad smile or broad face is not due “entirely” to diet. Nobody seems to talk about genetics. I read some comments mentioning the broad faces of farmers who work the field all day. I grew up in rural Michigan and it definitely does not hold true that farmers and people who eat this kind of diet all have broad faces and perfect teeth. I grew up eating very well, my Polish mom would bring me food constantly and I ate just about anything. My teeth came in slowly and are relatively small. While not terribly crooked, they weren’t great – so I have braces now at 28. And yes, thumb sucking definitely contributes to buck teeth – this is a well researched fact.

    It seems to me that if you believe people with narrow faces or jaws are just not well nourished you’re being ignorant and prejudiced. It’s along the same lines as being racist.

    Reply
    • Mike, it’s not racist at all. You can have a narrower face than the guy next to you without having crowding of teeth. Sometimes you can’t tell by the outside of the face whether there is room for the teeth to come in. Everyone wouldn’t look alike even if we have room for all of our teeth. But the fact is that crowded and crooked teeth are not normal, though common. They are due to nutritional deficiencies in pregnancy and formative years.

      Reply
      • Carrie, that’s just not true. Have you done any research at all? Have you been outside of the USA? You would see that people don’t often have perfect teeth without braces. I was recently in Poland visiting family and trust me – they are as well-fed as any American minus the fast food. My aunt’s cooked good meals 3 times a day – it’s just what they do over there. Despite that, her kids don’t have perfect teeth. They don’t have bad teeth but definitely not perfect. It’s just the way it is. Like I said – thumb sucking and other habits contribute to buck teeth and other habits also contribute to messed up teeth. These are just facts and if you’re unwilling to take them into consideration you stand to face the consequences. I certainly wish the best for your kids’ teeth.

        Reply
        • As a matter of fact, I have done lots of research into this topic making a decision in regards to my 11 year old’s health, and when I was a child I lived in Ireland.

          I realize that oral habits like thumb sucking and the like contribute to maloclussion. My son never sucked his thumb. I feel that the biggest contributing factor in his teeth crowding is a) my experiments with vegetarianism after his birth (oh how I wish I could go back in time!) and b) he briefly had a habit of mouth breathing. These aren’t issues anymore for him.

          Incidentally we saw a forward thinking Orthodontist today who is fitting him for an A.L.F! I am very happy about it. He says that most Orthodontists are “lazy” because they want to do extractions and braces.
          Carrie\’s last post: How To Eat Like a French Woman

          Reply
          • I would trust a DDS who uses the ALF. Like Sarah said don’t blame yourself. I put my son in braces and ruined his face and function, now fixing it with orthotropics.Melinda RDH orofacial myofunctional therapist, NTP

  50. Hi,
    I have a narrow palate with all the symptoms that go along with it. I have had numerous permanent teeth removed, wisdom included, teeth grinding, headaches, sinus issues and neck alignment problems. I was not breastfed and grew up on the SAD diet. I am now in my thirties and would like to correct this issues. Would I benefit from dental/orthomuscular remedies? What avenues do I have? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Emily,
      I was just about to post this same exact thing. I have such a narrow jaw, that I was missing frontal secondary teeth and had to have a bridge put in when I was 26. I couldn’t have implants because my bone is so narrow in the front due to my narrow jaw. I gave birth to my son when I was 26 and because I had such a narrow pelvis, he had to be delivered by C-section. Had I known that my narrow jaw could correlate to a narrow pelvis, I probably would have been more well prepared for that c-section!! It was horrible. I was not breastfed for very long as an infant, and I know my mother’s health was poor when I was in gestation. I grind my teeth, I have headaches and neck alignment issues as well. I grew up on a healthier version of the SAD diet, Ie, no soda, very little white bread, but still ate many chemicals in my processed “healthier” foods. I am quickly transitioning to a very traditional diet, and considering even going primal/paleo with some traditional modifications. Anyway, I’d love to know if there is something I could do to change my health even more so.

      Reply
  51. Marlo Morrison, Childrens Dental Care January 13, 2012 at 8:45 am

    It’s inheritance that cause crooked teeth, as the fact stated above. Jaw could be identified since birth, to be sure about your oral a regular visit to your dentist is must.

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist January 13, 2012 at 9:27 am

      Then why did the epidemic of crooked teeth only start after processed foods became popularized? You can’t have a genetic epidemic!

      Your training has obviously blinded you to the obvious which is unfortunately an epidemic flaw in the medical professions. What about Dr. Weston A. Price DDS and all his painstaking research? Do you ignore the research of one of your own even?

      Reply
    • none of my ancestors have crooked teeth or myopia;I have both…my childhood diet was based on refined/processed carbs,with lots of white flour and sugar…

      Reply
  52. Feye@Pediatric Dentist January 13, 2012 at 7:36 am

    In my research crooked teeth is caused by inheritance of oral and dental structures. Something we could do is either monitor your child’s teeth when he’s young and seek professional help. But as a mom, I really make sure that as early as possible he avoids junk foods and hopefully eat more veggies and fish.

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist January 13, 2012 at 9:42 am

      Have you read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A. Price DDS? If you haven’t, then your research is far from complete. Inheritance cannot cause crooked teeth as you can’t have a genetic epidemic and crooked teeth has only become widespread since the rise of processed foods in the diet.

      Reply
  53. My two cents:

    Boys grow for a long time. Male’s bones often don’t stop growing until late mid 20s (some late 20s!!) My husband’s skeletal structure didn’t change shape from his deficiencies (quite round/squared to narrow and long) until his late teen years or later (he didn’t notice and not enough photos for more specific).

    And my brother was quite small (like me) and narrow chinned until he went to Brazil and ate Natively for two years at 19-21. He came home bigger, more healthy proportioned, strong and a attractive (roommate-drooling-and-swooning-worthy) square head.

    I wonder about the age that is too late – my 60 year old m-in-l’s teeth are till moving and growing (really! a corner one is longer than the others and it didn’t used to be!) and such…. More importantly I think that young people are still growing much longer than we realize. Nothing like not being able to put teeth back in to wish they hadn’t been taken out.

    Thankfully my boys are still quite young and my second is starting to catch up – His lower half of his head is catching up with the top, His rib cage seems to be expanding (his tummy is not so large in proportion) and his overall structure doesn’t look so frail. We had some setbacks starting around the time of Halloween candy and spurts of sneaking treats for a few months, but I think he is starting to feel the blessings of making good choices and not choosing those other ‘drugs’! The youngest isn’t even two yet but loves to line up with his brothers to take his oils – he is definitely showing his strengths. :)
    Explaining and explaining over and over again why we eat such and such for dinner and happily take such and such to the little guys so they can be informed and part of the decision-making is a great experience for them to be able to do so as adults as well.

    Reply
    • Gigi – REALLY? I am so encouraged by your comment about your brother. My 11 year old has some mild crowding, and I am making changes to our already good diet to try to encourage his jaw to grow more. He is a gorgeous kid and doesn’t have that narrow, elongated face that you see in people with bad crowding and mouth breathing issues. So your comment gives me hope that his palate and jaw can expand a little to make more room for those incisors. :-)
      Carrie\’s last post: How To Survive The Hospital

      Reply
    • @Gigi – Interesting! I didn’t grow at all between the ages of 14 and 18. At 19, I moved from the UK to South Africa, and when I recently got measured (age 22) I found that I’d grown 1.5 cm (not a lot, but I’ll take it!). I think it could have something to do with all the animal fat and sunshine, both of which are a big part of South African life!

      Reply
  54. Nutrition is one important factor out of an infinite number. Some say life is simple, others complex. It’s easy for the majority of us to focus on a simple solution to try to answer the problem, and we would be wise to appreciate the value of good nutrition. However, there are many other factors in bone development, such as, “intrauterine muscle-induced mechanical loads in determining the three-dimensional morphology of developing bones.” {http://dev.biologists.org/content/138/15/3247.abstract}.

    Nutrition plays a role as does the mother’s environment affecting her psychological position. Another study might claim that a mother’s thoughts affect the shape and size of the child’s jaw and I could agree with it.

    A scientific study usually focuses on one aspect, no different than a nutrition website focusing on one topic, nutrition. Should we be so swift to condemn a study that does make some sense? Maybe it’s better to embrace it into our life and find a purpose for it rather than deny it?

    Reply
  55. I do believe bottle-feeding is a contributing factor. Certainly not the only one! I have some of the world’s worst teeth. I have fissures in the back teeth, causing me to get cavities no matter how much I brush. I had braces to fix my underbite, gap teeth, and buck teeth. To say nothing of the headgear, rubber bands, etc!

    Meanwhile my older brother has never had a cavity in his life, and his teeth came in perfectly.

    My mom insists the difference is that the water was fluorinated where she lived when my brother was born, and I always had unfluorinated water. I think it must be that first-child thing. She is a strong believer in low-fat diets and has lived low-fat all her life. However, she did eat a lot of cheese and butter when she was pregnant with my brother, because she was on WIC. Ironically, she ate better on government aid than she ever did when she had money to spend on food!

    However, the orthodontist, after observing my bite, told me that I have a tongue thrust. I push my tongue forward whenever I swallow, which pushes my front teeth forward. This behavior is learned from bottlefeeding — the baby pushes his tongue forward to keep from choking on the fast-flowing milk while he swallows. I was breastfed, but given bottles of water as well, which was a habit I kept for a long time.

    Really, for optimal tooth placement, formula-fed babies should be fed by other means than a bottle, such as a cup, finger tube, or lact-aid. These are all a hassle, but will probably be better for oral development. Or at least wean from a bottle to a cup as soon as possible — which pediatricians are now recommending anyway. I don’t know how pacifiers rank in mouth development, but I think they are better than bottles.

    Meanwhile, diet is certainly contributing, too. My mom still eats low-fat, and her sixth child, who is three, has “vampire teeth” that astounded the dentist when he first saw them. Finally he concluded that “something went wrong” when his teeth were developing in the womb and failed to form completely. My mom theorizes it’s because she had the flu. I think it’s because you can’t eat terribly for six pregnancies and have any nutrient stores left.

    Now off to eat something healthy so my baby — whose teeth are forming right now in utero, I think — doesn’t have to go through all the agony I did!
    Sheila\’s last post: There is only one issue, and it’s power

    Reply
    • I also have to get braces and the orthodontist told me I was tongue thruster also. Did you ever get your tongue thrusting habit fixed? Did you have to go get therapy? I am not looking forward to spending money to fix my habit as an adult. :(

      Reply
      • Tiff, Do get the myofunctional therapy as it may correct the other problems enough to satisfy you. You will be surprised what a correct swallow can do! Eat well as you do this like Sarah says!

        Reply
  56. Does anyone know what causes wisdom teeth to not even come in? I only have one thats come in and its only come in half way. I know so many people that have their wisdom teeth out that I thought it was something that everyone had done once they reached a certain age, lol. Now I know the real reason why!

    Reply
  57. This makes so much sense. Too bad for me and my children I am reading this after they were born. What I do find interesting is my own teeth and palate. I am a second child, born 20 months after my older sister. She has a very narrow jaw and needed braces and teeth pulled for overcrowding at a very young age. I have a wide jaw, straight teeth and only 2 cavities to speak of over my 38 years. My mother did not make any significant changes to her diet or lifestyle while she was pregnant with me, or for my other 3 younger siblings. My younger siblings also needed braces and / or retainers to straighten their crooked teeth. Perhaps she did consume more nutritionally dense food while pregnant with me without realizing it??

    Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      This is similar situation in my family. My brother and I (the middle girl and boy of 7 children total) did not need braces or glasses while all the others needed either braces, glasses or both (most needed both). The two of us were crazy about shrimp as kids and ate a ton of it at this all you can eat buffet nearby on Wed nights (all you can eat shrimp night). Since we lived in FL, the shrimp was fresh and really GOOD. I think this may have been a strong contributing factor. I also craved eggs and ate them a lot as a child .. much more often than my siblings it seemed.

      One more thing, I ate liverwurst at my Grandparent’s home down the street … loved it! None of my other siblings ate it. While my face is not particularly wide indicating a deficit of A/D/K2 in the womb, I do think my childhood diet which included frequent meals that included plentiful sacred foods .. widened my palate just enough so everything fit.

      Seafood, eggs, and liver are not so coincidentally all sacred foods that are high in A, D, and K2.
      Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: What Really Causes Crooked Teeth?

      Reply
      • I can relate to that. I too grew up in FL (Ft. Lauderdale) and ate lots of fish while my brothers and sisters did not eat as much, in fact my oldest sister lived off of chef boyrdee canned products, I could not stomach the stuff!! I still am eating things my family would not dream of, the latest, raw chicken liver (aka “liver pills”) :-)

        Reply
  58. It ALL goes back to nutrition, doesn’t it? I question everything, and I’ve often wondere (in fact, I wondered it just today) if crooked teeth is a recent, modern problem. Of course it is. As with everything else in our “modern” society, we’ve about modernized ourselves to death.

    Thanks for the great article!

    Reply
  59. Sarah,
    I know this is totally off topic for this blog post but I was hopeful maybe you’d see it and have a response possibly?
    Here’s my post from your cast iron blog post a while back:

    Hi, I know this is way late from when the post was actually written but I hope you will still see my comment and be able to respond. Thank you so much first of all for all your advice & opinion. I am so grateful for it and always seem to trust the advice you give because Iknow whatever you post you have put time and research into & deem it safe for your family, whereas I feel like I don’t have the time to do as much research because i have 3 children under the age of 3 so things tend to be a bit crazy (in a good way) I was curious what you think about Dr. Mercola’s Ceramic cookware (that supposedly??? isn’t supposed to leach anything?) I currently own Calphalon one anodized pans (Not sure how bad those are for you?) http://store.calphalon.com/calphalon-one-infused-anodized-8-piece-set/322565 a Large SS pot for making stock & a cast iron pan for frying eggs. I definitely would like to replace them with what would be best for my family, but tend to get overwhelmed in figuring out what!!!! I know you posted enamel (no lead), glass and titanium are best. Do you have any brands, links, or any pans / brands specific? And is that Dr Mercola set safe & a good option or is there another set you would recommend over it?

    Thank you so much for your help! I greatly appreciate it! Blessings, Melissa

    Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I don’t really keep up on various cookware options and what is best. I myself have a high quality stainless steel set that I received as a wedding gift 20 years ago that is fantastic and what I use for most things. I also use glass for baking and other cooking with tomato sauce for example which is acidic and shouldn’t be used in stainless steel if possible. Ceramic is a good option and I’m sure Dr. Mercola’s is probably fine although I haven’t researched it personally.
      Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: What Really Causes Crooked Teeth?

      Reply
    • I got RevereWare – excellent stuff. My mom has had her set for 20+ years. I was able to get very thick copper-bottom stainless pots that are excellent, for very inexpensive. They do hold a magnet – which I understand to be a test of leaching – but I not 100% on that. http://www.shopworldkitchen.com/ usually sells them. Between that and my cast iron and stones, I have all the pots I need.

      Reply
  60. Erin Bennett via Facebook January 5, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    How interesting that you would write on this now! I’m just researching Dr Terry Wahls, who is curing her MS through diet and one of the things she talks about is how what you eat affects the TEETH and JAW of you unborn children!!

    You can see her talk here and she also has a website that you can google:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjgBLwH3Wc

    Reply
  61. I told my husband about how nutrition affects the development of the jaw and palate, and he said “oh, like me, you mean?” Yeah…sorry about that. He has a very narrow jaw, and terrible sinus problems. Pretty sure he was formula fed, since his mom was a drug user who pretty much deserted him.
    Another example is my brother, who was the 5th child in 3 years (my mom had a twin pregnancy that she carried 26 weeks before my sister and I were born). She nursed my sister and I for a year, but my brother only 7 months. My brother has a much narrower face- needed braces and had to have 6 teeth pulled just to have enough room for straightening them! My sister and I never needed braces at all, and in general are healthier than my brother, even in adulthood. I understood why after reading NaPD.

    Reply
  62. Sarah- I have been wondering this, and maybe you can give me some insight…. My youngest’s very first tooth came in crooked (bottom front). She is 18 months old now and seems to have okay top teeth but bottom teeth are somewhat misaligned but not overlapped. For the most part, they are straight. Before and during my pregnancy with her, I was following a traditional diet. What gives? Did I do something wrong? I too have the same crookedness about my lower teeth. Is this a coincidence? My oldest has perfect teeth and had the not so luxurious diet of fast food cheeseburgers and chocolate chip cookies during her pregnancy and my poor baby child ends up with a crooked smile :(

    Reply
      • Hmmm…I don’t think so. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of “gut dysbiosis” before. I’m a fairly healthy young woman…No allergies, no chornic disease, etc. Plenty of energy. I feel great and felt great throughout her pregnancy. It was actually my easiest pregnancy so far. How would I know if I had a “gut issue”?

        Reply
  63. The dentist has told us my son needs his wisdom teeth out, and I have always thought it was inevitable. He’s had braces already and he’s 16, now. Is there something we can do to prevent having his wisdom teeth out at this late stage? Should I just buy the Weston A. Price book?

    Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      He is pretty much fully grown, so widening of his jaw to accommodate at this stage via nutrition is unlikely. A wide palate and jaw are mostly formed in the womb.

      However, make sure that if he must have those wisdom teeth out that the removal is done correctly without leaving any cavitations behind which can cause long term health problems much like root canals can.
      Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: What Really Causes Crooked Teeth?

      Reply
    • I would be careful having the wisdom teeth out. If there is no problems with them such as an infection, I would leave them in. Fortunately my son did not have his out and it will help his jaws and bone density. Dr. Hang was very happy about this. It is just not the truth that they make the teeth crooked again after braces. There are other reasons for this one being the natural mesial shift of the teeth throughout life. Then there is the memory and the teeth that want to drift back to where they were and then one more thing is the tongue and muscle function and how that will effect the teeth. There are so many more things that effect the movement of teeth. The wisdom teeth are not one, usually. Seek wisdom, before you pull any teeth.

      Reply
  64. Craig Fear via Facebook January 5, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Nearly died laughing when I read about the soft food theory. Thanks for injecting some common sense (amazing how many so called scientists lack it).

    Reply
  65. Rebecca Epperly Wire via Facebook January 5, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Thanks for this post! Are there any concerns with having baby teeth pulled that Price may have mentioned or that has come up in real food research? Our dentist is saying it’s necessary because of overcrowding and believes braces are in our future, but we are pushing real food and hoping for some positive adjustments based in nutrition. Any advice?

    Reply
  66. I ate a whole grain low-fat diet with minimal meat when pregnant with my daughter. She is now in her 20′s, has a severe overbite, which she will soon be using a functional orthodontics program to widen her upper palate to make room for the lower jaw. We have good hopes that this non-surgical procedure will stop her jaw-clicking and neck and shoulder pain, in addition to aligning her teeth. When pregnant with my next 2 kids, I was buying pasture- fed beef and meats which was a substantial part of my diet. My sons do not suffer from malocclusions despite the younger having been a thumb-sucker like his sister. I so wish I had ignored the whole grain, no cholesterol mantra of the 1980′s and 1990′s.

    Reply
  67. In the past nine months, I’ve learned so much about what is truly healthy eating, not what is touted as ‘healthy’ by ‘professionals’. While our diet has changed 180 degrees from a year ago, I have four children born before we discovered this way of eating and one born just several months after (I started out pregnancy on a SAD). How can I best help those which are not already lost causes to orthodontics already? I breastfeed the youngest. We already eat lots of healthy fats, pastured meats, soaked whole grains, lots of fruits and veggies. FCLO is out of reach for us financially (with 7 in the family that’s a lot to go through in a month). Is there a brand of Cod Liver Oil that would work as a substitute or something else we could do?

    Reply
  68. YES there are other options besides conventional orthodontics! Currently myself and my 7 year old daughter are under the care of a neuromuscular dentist, one of the best in the nation. My daughter’s baby teeth looked beautiful but her permanet teeth were coming in crowded. In just a couple months through the use of an appliance, he has widened her upper jaw so there is ample room for all the teeth and we just started with another appliance to do the same for the lower. As for myself, I sought care after reading an article in Wise Traditions about malocclusions. Since being under care my constant fatigue, headaches and neck pain have improved about 90%. I feel like a new person. Part of my treatment is also appliances to widen the upper and lower arches. http://www.midwestheadaches.com for more information!

    Reply
    • how can an orthodontic appliance widen the arch in an adult?
      my orthodontist told me that the arch in an adult is set like bone and can only be widened by surgically cutting the arch in two and holding it apart until new bone forms..

      Reply
      • I don’t think that is correct. I know of many people who have undergone palate expansion as adults. I think it’s just easier in children, as the palate would probably be softer/more malleable (for lack of a better word!). Like Sarah says, I think the key would be taking the expansion process very slowly.

        Reply
        • Mali, You are correct except for the slow part. It is hard on the bone to move teeth through it for years. One could get some bone loss as an adult as a result of moving the teeth too slow or fast especially if they pull any teeth. There is a memory factor also. The tongue is a much better mover of teeth and much more natural to the mouth than a metal expander! haha Proper tongue position would be what I would check first.

          Reply
  69. Dear Sarah,
    I am wondering what your thoughts are if a child already has a narrow palate? Would you do orthodontics?? My 5 year old has slightly crowded teeth and narrow jaw but those are still his baby teeth, so I am assuming he will have crowding issues in the next few years :(

    He has beautiful teeth though and no cavities, due to his excellent diet and fclo/hvbo, it is my fault he has the crowding, due to my prenatal SAD diet :(

    What are your thoughts on palate widening and other orthodontia?

    Reply
      • Sarah,
        I admire you and all you do. This is my area of expertise, however. Slowly moving teeth is just as bad as quickly moving teeth. One should never be in braces much more than a year and that can happen if they work with an orofacial myofunctional therapist before or during treatment. But widening the palate is good but the tongue should be checked first for rest position then the breathing or this first actually. My son had his palate widened for 18 months before they put on braces. This stopped the growth of the maxilla bone so his mandible grew downward after braces. All orthodontists push the teeth back. This then stopped more growth so his chin was recessed after ortho then his TMJ problems started years later and eventually he would have airway problems leading to sleep apnea if we had done nothing. And he is a nose breather! But he is now in treatment not with the orthodontist that he went to which most people would do when there is a relapse but with Dr Hang who does the orthotropics. I did orofacial myology with him but it wasn’t enough because of the bone being prevented from growing we had to move the teeth forward on top. Then the lower jaw and TMJ can move into position. My son was in braces/treatment way too long the first time and that is hard on the bone. He will be treated in less than a year this time. Hope this makes some sense to you. Melinda

        Reply
    • Benaan, I would start with orofacial myofunctional therapy. Do not go to an orthodontics.I think it is better to do nothing than to do orthodontia. There is still time has he is young but should see a DDS who does orthotropics soon if the permanent teeth are the same narrow arch. Most important is to check the breathing. Does he nose breathe or is his mouth open? Where is his tongue at rest? Check that by asking him when he is sitting quietly. Check him when he sleeps and gently close his mouth if open. See an orofacial myofunctional therapist who does Buteyko Breathing. I will find you one if you cannot. BBEA has Buteyko Breathing educators.

      Reply
  70. That hard food theory is not convincing. In addition to the peoples mentioned in the post, The Inuit studied by Dr Price had broad faces, plenty of room for all their teeth, and perfect teeth. They ate plenty of soft foods like seal fat and seafood that was fermented for months. Nutrition is everything, when it comes to teeth and bone structure.

    Reply
      • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        Let me also add that when I was a manager and was in charge of hiring people for my department, our company used an IQ test to determine ability to do the job (the positions were designer/developers in the IT dept so this was very important to ascertain). I always found it striking that frequently the highest IQ people scored very low on critical thinking (ability to solve problems). I think this is why so many scientists, doctors and others who are very very smart miss very simple concepts such as nutrition affecting the development of bone structure which is so simple to grasp for those with even one iota of common sense.
        Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: What Really Causes Crooked Teeth?

        Reply
        • That is a very good point. In my career as an attorney, I frequently came across other attorneys who had gone to the best law schools, graduated with high grades, and were totally useless for any practical purpose. Completely lacking in common sense. They would remember a canned solution to a problem, but they could not solve a real problem when the canned solution did not fit.

          I am convinced there is are different kinds of mental abilities, and doing well in an educational system which favors dogma and memorization over creativity and critical thinking is no guarantee of success in solving real problems… I am frequently stunned at the conclusions scientists come up with in studies, many of which make no sense at all, like this one.

          Reply
    • What about pemmican and jerky? Not all aspects of the diet have to be hard, just enough. Without reading the article (bad form, sorry) I have to ask: were the authors suggesting that ONLY texture was the difference? Are the two – nutritional quality and food texture – not likely to work in concert?
      There’s also the suggestion that the wider pressure and greater effort involved in breast feeding vs bottle feeding “massages” the palate and helps it develop a broad and shallow curve. We accept that a baby lying on one side will flatten their head, why is it such a stretch to think that feeding (which happens as much as sleeping in those early months!) wouldn’t be similar? And by extension that chewing on your pencil in grade school is insinct! (joking – partly. Not going to try to defend the suggestion, just wondering)

      Reply
      • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
        Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist January 6, 2012 at 10:58 am

        Great question Lauren. My reading is that nutrition is given no credit at all for a wide palate. There was no discussion of the differences in nutrition between the farmers and the hunter-gatherers. In fact, the author of the study examined the skulls etc but there was NO MENTION whether the teeth of the farmers were even crooked! I doubt even that they were given that these were primitive farmers with no access to processed foods much like the Swiss farmers in Dr. Price’s book who of course had beautiful, straight teeth.

        Reply
  71. I had forgotten about the first born being healthier, thanks for the reminder! I didn’t have the best diet when I was pregnant with my first, I was pretty much vegetarian but ate eggs, fish and some poultry. Unfortunately I ate many soy foods like soymilk, soy icream, soy protein etc. and continued to eat these while breastfeeding and gave my daughter many soy products including soy formula for about 3 months. Fortunately we are off soy now and I started eating meat again, I ate meat during my second pregnancy and even craved steak! I didn’t know about the WAPF until I pretty much stopped nursing my second. I’m making sure they eat lots of good fat now and they love fish eggs right off the spoon! I did want to mention that even though I was vegetarian for about 10 years and had poor meat intake even before I went veg. I dont have any cavities and neither does my oldest daughter. I did give her cod liver oil though off and on for years after reading the benefits from Dr. Mercolas site.

    Reply
    • I should mention that my husband is from Ukraine and didnt come to Canada until he was around 14. He grew up on raw dairy, pastured animals and fat, fish eggs and all the other good stuff. He has straight teeth, never had braces and had room for all his wisdom teeth. I was talking to his mom and she said that when she told her siblings about margarine in Canada they laughed at her and didnt believe there was such a thing! They all used butter back home. Oh and his mom has straight teeth, no braces and only 4 cavities and shes 62!!! I believe that if I were to have a child with someone who was vegetarian that my children would have some issues. Since their father grew up on such good foods he passed down his good genes to our kids.

      Reply
  72. LeslieintheGarden January 5, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    I saw this in New Scientist and was curious about the rationale for the author of the study to draw that particular conclusion. It demonstrates that we can only speculate within the realm of our personal limited scope of knowledge. While I disagreed with her findings, it was gratifying to note that the net result is the neolithic diet is to blame for crooked teeth.

    As for my own experience, I’m a 4th born child and have one of the smallest palates my dentist has ever seen; have no wisdom teeth and have had three adult teeth removed to accommodate my bite. Raised on a regular diet of Coke (my Dad worked for the co. when I was young), I have several fillings (even in the earlier baby teeth), and until several years ago when I started to pay more attention to nutrition, had bleeding gums and constant plaque build up. In addition, while not short (5’4″), I’m very small boned and wonder if I’ll be able to eat & exercise my way to a stronger skeleton before I get too old. When you start paying attention to this stuff–looking around at people you meet, you can almost tell at a glance whose parents and themselves have been consuming a better diet. I’ve given my daughter Nora Gedgaudas’ book and make sure when my grandchildren are visiting, they benefit from what I’ve learned from WAP, Nora, et al.

    I love your website Sarah, and appreciate the time you take to research and post valuable info.

    Reply
    • I’m constantly looking at peoples teeth now, lol. I agree that you can tell who was raised on a better diet by looking at peoples face and teeth.

      Reply
      • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        Look how broad the faces and jaws of older people raised on the farm typically are! Compare this to the narrow faces and pinched nostrils of modern children. The great news is that a women with a narrow face and crooked teeth (or who had braces) herself can have children with broad faces and straight teeth. This is not a genetic abnormality but is entirely controlled by diet.
        Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: What Really Causes Crooked Teeth?

        Reply
  73. I too am a believer in Dr. Price’s work and we supplement with FCLO and HVBO daily at our house and try to eat (as well as we can) a WAP diet with raw milk and lots of saturated fat. But do you think thumb sucking can play a role in jaw development at all? My son has been a thumb sucker since birth (we started a WAP diet when he was almost 1) but he has a nice wide lower jaw and his upper jaw is a little more crowded but his two front teeth are close together and stick out considerably more. I’ve been attributing this to his thumb sucking but is it possible to have broad straight teeth with a correct diet even with a thumb sucker?

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      • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        Remember that the palate is mostly formed by 6 months of age so the diet of the mother while the baby is in the womb (particularly very early in the womb) is so very critical. While diet in childhood is very important for health, it doesn’t actually change the bone structure that much – although it does somewhat. My second child was born very flat footed and was so until he was 5 years old for example (I didn’t get onto traditional fats and sacred foods until I was a few months along with him in pregnancy) but he now has a beautiful foot structure and arch after having his entire childhood consuming fat soluble activators A, D, and K2.
        Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: What Really Causes Crooked Teeth?

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        • I wish I would have known this when I was pregnant with my own kids. My mom raised us on processed crap and although my teeth are straight, I have buck teeth and they don’t line up correctly, so I have TMJ. I also have ALL my wisdom teeth and the dentists are always impressed.
          We adopted a 10 month old from China 6 years ago. She has a narrow jaw and I believe her teeth will be crowded also. She was abandoned at birth (giving up babies in China is illegal but they make sure to put the babies where someone will find them) so she was raised in an orphanage getting fed formula. She is as smart as they come though, but not much hope in getting the jaw straightened out. She also sucks her thumb.
          Is there anything to do with the teeth instead of braces. My son’s are crowded and I know that they will want to pull them.
          For those of you that don’t know, Rami Nagel wrote a book about how he cured his daughters very bad teeth with Weston A. Price.

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          • Look into orthotropics — the opposite of orthodontics — a natural way to widen the arches with mouth inserts fitted by a specialist (orthotropist??). There aren’t any near where I live but you may be lucky enough. Also I think it depends on how old you are whether orthotropics works as thoroughly. Just google it.

          • I had my palate widened when I was about 13 years old, and doing this enabled the dentist to pull all my teeth into place. They used a metal device that had a screw thing that was turned once a day, and it gradually widened my palate (it became very obvious as all of a sudden my once overlapping front teeth had a whopping great gap between them!). I am certain this was a much better way to deal with my crowded teeth than having any pulled (incidentally this was 25 years ago). Eventually I had my wisdom teeth removed, but the rest of my teeth fit nicely (and I have quite large teeth). I really wish I’d heard of WAP before my kids were born as I am sure that at least 1, if not 2 will need braces!!

          • Mary, Do not pull any teeth when straightening! It is important that children like yours eat lots of mineral rich foods including cod liver oil and broths. Just like in healing a tooth one can help the bone too. I would check your child for mouth breathing. Weston Price talks about this in his book also. I believe the #1 thing you can do for your orofacial health is to nose breath. And it helps so many other health problems more than we can imagine. Orthotropics is wonderful. My son face was ruined by a orthodontist and he is seeing Dr Hang to recover from the long face syndrome and TMD and facial structure problems from the bone being prevented from growing by pushing the teeth back! to straighten them. They need to be brought forward as is done in orthotropics. This makes a beautiful face though that is not the goal but a side effect of proper movement of the teeth. However, before you go to the orthodontist find a myofunctional therapist. Go to myofunctionaltherapy.com to search for one in your area. Or go to my website and I will look one up for you if you send me an email. Orofacial Myofunctional therapy works with the muscles of the face and mouth to bring proper placement of tongue rest position, swallowing,and most important is airway. I do Buteyko Breathing for this then the myo. This should be done first to help the palate oral structures. Muscle can move teeth through bone as a muscle builder can strengthen the bone. Weston Price also found the bone was dense so nutrition is the #2 most important thing in my book. Hope this makes sense. Melinda RDH orofacial myofunctional therapist, Nutritional therapist and Buteyko prac.

    • I was a thumb sucker until I was 8 years old. Sad but very true. I have perfectly straight teeth and no jaw problems.

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  74. Modern medicine only pays attention to the symptom again. It definitely makes more sense that crooked teeth are due to malnutrition.

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